Elk Grove’s Western Festival is canceled again in 2022

Parade watchers watch the 2005 Western Festival Parade on Elk Grove Blvd.  Organizers were keen for the Elk Grove Western Festival to return in 2022 after the ongoing pandemic led to the cancellation of the 2021 event, but called for the event to be canceled due to COVID and sponsor concerns.

Parade watchers watch the 2005 Western Festival Parade on Elk Grove Blvd. Organizers were keen for the Elk Grove Western Festival to return in 2022 after the ongoing pandemic led to the cancellation of the 2021 event, but called for the event to be canceled due to COVID and sponsor concerns.

Sacramento Bee file

The Elk Grove Western Festival was canceled again this year, one of the city’s enduring events that fell victim to ongoing coronavirus concerns and sponsorship battles, the event’s organizer said Friday.

“It’s an attempt,” a disappointed Ken Johnston, the festival’s longtime organizer, said Friday of the decision weeks ahead of the festival’s May date. “It takes a lot of planning, entertainment, sponsorship and many (sponsors) have not responded because of the virus and the economy,” Johnston said.

Johnston was excited for the Western Festival to return in 2022 in the wake of the ongoing pandemic, and subsequent discussions with officials from Elk Grove and the Cosumnes Community Services District resulted in the cancellation of the 2021 event.

RB Western Festival Motorcy.JPG
LEDE–A stunt rider jumps his motorcycle from ramp to ramp on Sunday, May 6, 2007 at Elk Grove Regional Park in Elk Grove while rodeo bulls wait to be ridden. The motorcycle performance was part of the entertainment for the 50th Annual Western Festival. 2321 Sacramento Bee / Randall Benton Randall Benton Sacramento Bee staff photo

But the ongoing pandemic “takes a toll on many of our members. We’ve lost a few to the virus,” he said. Those concerns were felt outside of the festival as well, impacting sponsorships and entertainment bookings and forcing organizers to pull the plug on an event in 2022.

the Elk Grove Western Festival started more than 60 years ago as an event to raise money for the city’s schools, but has since grown into one of Elk Grove’s most popular events, drawing thousands of people to Elk Grove Regional Park

Now, Johnston says, this latest setback will give organizers time to take a fresh look at the decades-old event.

“We thought we would take a step back, reinvent ourselves and come back with a better program,” he said.

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Darrell Smith is Elk Grove reporter for The Sacramento Bee. He joined The Bee in 2006 and previously worked at newspapers in Palm Springs, Colorado Springs and Marysville. Smith was born and raised at Beale Air Force Base near Marysville and lives in Elk Grove.

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