MumFest 2020 is still a go – albeit a scaled-back version of New Bern’s largest annual event.


Swiss Bear Downtown Development Corp., organizers for the city- sponsored festival, are working to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t put a blank space on the 2020 calendar for the 40th annual event.


As recent as 2018, MumFest was held a month after Hurricane Florence’s flood waters devastated the downtown business and residential areas near the waterfront.


A positive sign emerged Tuesday with the announcement that orders are being taken for the traditional MumFest business support banners and Mum sponsorships around the festival grounds.


Meanwhile the logistical planning continues.


"We are working on different versions. Some version will take place. We should have more answers in about two weeks," said Swiss Bear Executive Director Lynne Harakal. "A full-blown version is off the table. We don’t see how we can safely commit to that."


The update is expected to project the largest and smallest options.


A full-blown MumFest in the past has included about 300 visiting street vendors, a kickoff concert and more than 100,000 people descending on the city over three days.


Harakal said final decisions for a festival that is still 95 calendar days away will remain tentative amid the fluid pandemic situation and its accompanying governmental and common sense restrictions.


"So much could happen in the next three months," Harakal said.


COVID-19 disappearing is not among the possibilities, so no matter the festival size, all safety precautions will be in effect for Oct. 10 and 11.


In a best scenario, the event will be no more than one-third of its normal showcase of vendors, with spacing and one-one way pedestrian traffic.


The annual kickoff concert with national talent on Oct. 9 has been canceled due to the intimate nature of concert crowds.


A potential bright spot is the popular amusement rides along the Neuse River.


At this point, Michael’s Amusements can still participate. Michael's Amusements is a third generation family amusement company based out of Fayetteville and longtime MumFest participant.


"They use the same cleaning materials and procedures as Disney World," Harakel said.


Organizers begin planning for MumFest each year as soon as the festival ends.


This year, the New Bern Area Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Swiss Bear for MumFest banner sales and Mum sponsorships.


"We are excited to announce this partnership and are ready to launch the campaign," said Teresa Suhrie, director of Special Events and Membership for the Chamber. "Your help is greatly appreciated during this trying time. We look forward to presenting you, our community and our guests with this colorful display of local pride at a time when it is needed so badly."


The business name will be printed on both sides of the MumFest banner. Banners will be placed on lamp posts in greater downtown and remain on display about four weeks and then returned to the business once all banners have been cleaned and sorted.


An example of the 2020 banner artwork appears in the upper left-hand corner of the application. Reserve a banner by completing the application and mailing a check for $185, payable to the New Bern Area Chamber of Commerce; or request to be invoiced by filling out the application and returning it to Suhrie at tsuhrie@newbernchamber.com


You may also complete an application and payment online. The deadline for application submission and payment is Aug. 10. A banner cannot be produced until payment is received.


To sponsor the purchase of mums that beautify the city during the festival, consider being a Mum Sponsor. The $300 Mum Sponsorship includes a banner and other recognitions as outlined in the Mum Sponsorship application. If you are interested in other levels of sponsorship, contact Harakal at director@swissbear.org or call 288-9825.


For a banner application, go to https://files.constantcontact.com/2077a1ba001/2abf84e3-cd43-475a-bed7-c726e8238496.pdf


For a sponsorship application, go to https://files.constantcontact.com/2077a1ba001/d2392b00-c6fc-4541-bb3c-cb841ac23cc3.pdf


For festival updates go to mumfest.com.


Charlie Hall can be reached at 252-635-5667 or 252-259-7585, or charlie.hall@newbernsj.com. Follow him on Facebook at Charlie Hall.