A Sherman annual fall tradition is set to continue for the 39th year. In spite of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, organizers said Friday that the annual Sherman Arts Fest will be held on schedule this year.


The downtown Sherman arts and crafts fair will be held Sept. 19 on the Sherman Municipal Building’s lawn.


"It seems like a lot of people are ready to get out and do something safely with their immediate family and it is a great time to get out and buy those unique Christmas items for family and friends," Main Street Director Sarah McRae said.


This year’s festival will have changes, including hand washing stations and distancing measures, aimed at keeping people safe during the pandemic.


In previous years, the event has brought crowds of thousands to the grounds for shopping, musical performances and other artistic displays.


For this year, each individual vendor booth will spaced 10 feet apart in an effort to provide distance and keep groups from clustering.


"Having such a big gap between vendors is something we’ve never done before and will spread out the festival in a great way," McRae said.


Performance spaces at the multiple stages will also be spread out to prevent groups from gathering closely.


"You will have plenty of space to spread out with your lawn chair on the municipal grounds and enjoy the performance," she said.


The move to continue the arts festival comes as many cities have elected to cancel or reschedule fall gatherings. Both the Denison Fall Fest and Whitesboro Peanut Festival will not take place this year.


"Our leadership here is a fan of continuing in a safe manner when we can. A lot of people’s livelihoods depend on selling goods for events like this and then suddenly all the festivals are canceled," McRae said. "A lot of people miss out on the things they need when we decide to cancel. So, it is good that we can still have it."


In deciding if the event should take place, McRae said organizers looked to Hot Summer Nights, the city’s annual concert series, as an example.


The number of registered vendors for this year is down compared to last year, but McRae noted that vendors have until Sept. 11 to register. As of Friday, 86 vendors had registered for the event, a significant drop from the 130 that participated in 2019.


Along with some vendors, certain attractions will also not be returning for 2020.


While the Sherman Arts League traditionally has held a show in the Sherman Municipal Ballroom, it will be replaced with a display by Ghost Town Arts Collective.


Likewise the annual Sherman Education Foundation fundraiser race will take place in a virtual form for 2020.


Despite the losses, McRae said some new events will be coming to the festival. They include a series of drone races that will take place for the first time in the event’s history.


Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.