By Emily McCarthy
Local businesses try to make the best of fall events despite COVID-19 concerns. Many of these places are not far from Youngstown State University’s campus and are offering various fall activities on weekends.
Tara Mady, assistant director of the Mahoning County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said many businesses are announcing last-minute events.
“Since so many events have been canceled due to COVID-19, I feel that the events that are taking place are more popular this year. Mostly likely because there is not as much to do,” Mady said. “As the weather gets colder, the Stambaugh Auditorium virtual events will be more popular, as well as the drive through holiday light displays. Every event is looking a little different this year and organizers are trying to make the best of it.”
Jamie Marshall, marketing and design manager at Stambaugh Auditorium, said in order to keep the public involved, the venue created a free app offering virtual experiences.
“We are going to be doing behind the scenes videos, some questions and answers with the cast. So then each category [in the app] has different videos in it. We are going to be free streaming the silent film that we do every year,” she said. “Concert highlights … we are going to be doing more highlights of past performances we had … also, there’s a hub.”
Stambaugh Auditorium also produces podcasts with various actors and performers.
“We do, like, different themes. One is performances, so we’ll do, like, a performance preview. We do interviews with people who either have performed here oriteract in performing arts,” Marshall said. “We did one actually with a music therapist so she came in and I asked her questions about knowing the benefits of music therapy and everything. It’s our top episode.”
Most of the app’s content is free to the public, and there is an option to sign up for content downloads. While most content doesn’t have a fee, the annual opera is a paid event.
“Right now the only thing we have that’s going to be paid is ‘The Taste of Traviata,’ that’s this year’s opera,” she said. “So, the opera typically is, like, a $75 ticket and since we are not actually able to do a full stage opera, we’re doing the video and it’s $19.99.”
Debbie Pifer, the owner of White House Fruit Farm, said they will be making pumpkin doughnuts all month and make fresh apple cider every other day. White House had to cancel many events for the year, including the berry festivals, musical performances and a scarecrow competition. Events for the winter are still being determined. There are many fall activities drawing visitors.
“Our weekend events through October … are horse-drawn wagon rides, budgie bird feeding barn, walk-through petting zoo, feeding the fish at our lake, pumpkin pavilion and our gift barn,” Pifer said. “We may or may not host our Christmas on the Farm [event] the second weekend of December — it will depend on COVID.”
Visitors to the sunflower field posed for photo shoots and picked their own bouquets to bring home. The Cozé Coffee Bar is also offering fall drinks outside the building for the remainder of the Fall Festival Weekends.
Weekend exclusive events in the Youngstown area are also taking place through the end of October, such as Nightmare at the Canfield Scaregrounds, Maze Craze corn maze and spooky movies at Elm Road Triple Drive-In Theatre.