PAULLINA—As N’West Iowa cities come out of quarantine and businesses begin to reopen, the Paullina Chamber of Commerce has heard many requests to still hold the community’s annual summer celebration this year.

Even with many other regional events being canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the chamber decided to push forward and schedule Paullina’s 11th annual Gemboree for Friday-Saturday, June 26-27.

“Our committee took on that challenge and reworked the event slightly to accommodate public health concerns and recommended hygiene and sanitation protocols,” said chamber member Brenda Kruse.

The ad copywriter/creative director for AD-RITR Creative Services also is a member of the five-person Marketing Hometown Paullina committee.

“Fortunately, our events are all held outdoors, which has been shown to help lower the risk of exposure to the coronavirus,” Kruse said.

In addition to the public restrooms and portable toilets, the chamber added sanitizing stations and a dedicated hand-washing station at Paullina City Park to allow attendees to frequently clean their hands.

“We will also mark spacing to accommodate the 6-foot physical distancing recommendation for waiting in lines,” Kruse said. “We are asking anyone attending our events to plan to bring your own lawn chairs and picnic blankets so you can safely socially distance by family groups.”

The 2020 Gemboree will kick off with a Friday night of fun starting at 6 p.m.

“We are bringing back the very popular cornhole tournament from last year, along with a beer and beverage garden at the city park’s ball field,” Kruse said.

The Odebolt-based band Trust will be on stage 7-11 p.m. performing rock music hits from the 1970s-90s.

Saturday’s activities will begin with a parade on Main Street starting at 1 p.m.

“After that, a Party in the Park will be held from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. with select inflatables and carnival games that allow for less exposure and easier sanitizing,” Kruse said.

“We will have the kiddie train and Ferris wheel from years past, and a new dunk tank and other games that are fun for all ages,” she said.

As a new attraction to the Party in the Park, Iowa State Bank will sponsor Special K’z the Clown and her giant bubbles act.

“We will also have wine tasting and food vendors, or feel free to bring a picnic lunch,” Kruse said.

The Paullina Fire Department will host a rib smoke-off competition Saturday at the city park. Registration will be at 9 a.m. with cooking happening until the judging starts at 3:30 p.m., with awards handed out just before 5 p.m.

The festive finale of the Gemboree always has been a fireworks show over Mill Creek Park’s lake at dusk.

“We will again be offering this event and suggest families and groups allow for social distancing,” Kruse said.

One new highlight for this year’s event is the chamber’s raffle drawing for a new John Deere Gator utility vehicle.

“We’ve been selling $25 tickets to win it, but had to postpone sales and the drawing during the COVID-19 quarantine,” Kruse said. “We will be drawing the winner at 2 p.m. so get your chances bought before then.

“All funds go toward the chamber’s community events, student scholarships, Gemboree fireworks and other betterment projects in the Paullina area,” she said.

She noted people are encouraged to attend the Gemboree if they are healthy enough to do so.

“We do ask that you stay home if you have — or recently had — any symptoms of sickness, especially a fever of plus-100 degrees, or have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19,” Kruse said.

“We encourage face masks and respect for 6-foot social distancing to protect our community from further outbreaks,” she said.

This story was originally published in the June 20, 2020, edition of The South O'Brien Sun.