Danville, Indiana – Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hendricks County Parks & Recreation has cancelled the Fall Colors Festival that was to be held at McCloud Nature Park later this month. The annual event is tentatively scheduled to return in 2021, pending the public health situation at that time.
The Fall Colors Festival, which was scheduled to be held on Oct. 17, is the department’s most popular single-day event of the year, according to Assistant Superintendent Eric Ivie. Instead, the park staff will host tree hikes, popsicle stick catapult programs, and a scavenger hunt throughout the day.
“This decision was not made lightly,” said Ivie. “However, with the number of anticipated guests that day and the small size of our staff, we did not feel equipped to host a festival of that size with the events that guests have come to expect while keeping our guests as safe as possible.”
Ivie said that many of the event’s traditional activities – such as archery, throwing an atlatl, using a rope to climb trees, sharing paint brushes to decorate pumpkins, handling apples in a cider press, and more – involve sharing equipment. Other activities such as hayrides and visiting vendor booths make social distancing very difficult.
“Individually, accommodations could be made for each activity,” said Ivie. “Collectively, however, it would be too much for the number of staff and volunteers available to us. We determined that the end result would likely be a disappointment to our guests and could put them in harm’s way. The health and safety of our guests is our top priority, and that simply wasn’t a risk that we’re willing to take.”
Ivie encourages people to visit the park on any day from dawn to dusk, including on Oct. 17 to experience the alternative programs. The natural beauty of the property and the wide variety of tree species located there makes McCloud Nature Park a Top 10 destination for fall foliage in the state, according to Visit Indiana.
The department currently plans a 2021 return for the Fall Colors Festival.
Hendricks County Parks & Recreation operates McCloud Nature Park outside of North Salem and the portion of the Vandalia Trail that runs from Amo through Coatesville to the Hendricks-Putnam County Line. They are also currently constructing W.S. Gibbs Memorial Park in Avon with the new park scheduled to open in 2021.