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Franklin Day Festival Canceled For 2020 Over Large Gathering Ban Uncertainty

The Township Council has canceled the annual Franklin Day Festival for 2020.

Uncertainty over whether the state’s ban on large group gatherings would be lifted in the next two months led the township to cancel the annual Franklin Day Festival.

Township Manager Robert Vornlocker suggested the cancellation of this year’s September fest, which draws upwards of 20,000 people to Colonial Park, during the July 14 virtual Township Council meeting.

“The Franklin Day festival is scheduled for two months from now,” Vornlocker said. “Right now New Jersey has limitations of 500 people in public gatherings outdoors. My inclination is that number will not increase dramatically by September.”

Vornlocker said vendors must plan well in advance of events such as Franklin Day, and that it would be “unfair” to the vendors to try and schedule the event on speculation.

“It’s my recommendation that we cancel Franklin Day festival for this year,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s fair to the vendors to wait any longer at this point and string them along,” Vornlocker said. “I’ve seen events canceled as far in the future as October.”

“It’s not uncommon for us to be looking into the future and say these large events are too dangerous to hold and put too many people at risk,” he said.

Vornlocker said the final decision rests with the Council.

“I don’t see how we could practically do it,” Mayor Phil Kramer said. “You can hope against hope that things would open up more.”

“I think it’s wise to cancel it,” Township Councilwoman Kimberly Francois (D-At Large) said.

One aspect of Franklin Day will be preserved this year, however: construction premit amnesty.

Traditionally, on Franklin Day the township offered amnesty to property owners who completed construction work on their homes without getting a permit. The owners could secure a permit without any fines.

Vornlocker said that in honor of the 45th anniversary of the state’s Uniform Construction Code, the amnesty will be offered during the week of October 5.

“Everyone who has been doing construction work on their home, perhaps they’ve been doing construction work during this quarantine and they couldn’t get permits, we’ll give them a chance to get them,” Vornlocker said.

“If it has to be virtual, it will be virtual,” he said.

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