Dan Patch Historical Society parade float 2019

The Dan Patch Historical Society’s float depicts Marion W. Savage and Dan Patch during the annual Dan Patch Days parade in downtown Savage on June 22, 2019.

Savage’s largest annual festival, Dan Patch Days, is canceled again this year due to uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

The celebration was scheduled to take place June 24-27 in Savage Community Park, but organizers officially called-off the festival this week.

Dan Patch Days Inc., a non-profit organization governed by local volunteers, plans the festival each year in partnership with the city of Savage, the Savage Chamber of Commerce and other local partners.

On March 30, the Dan Patch Day’s Inc. Board of Directors voted unanimously to stop planning this year’s festival and focus instead on making a strong return in 2022.

Savage resident Barry Stock, the board’s secretary and a volunteer with the organization for more than 20 years, said Minnesota’s ongoing pandemic restrictions brought too much uncertainty to continue moving plans forward.

Guidelines surrounding social distancing were particularly concerning for festival organizers.

“With those current restrictions in place — impossible,” Stock said.

Two bands, Hairball and the Dweebs, had been booked for 2020 and again in 2021.

Organizers say they are currently working to rebook entertainment acts for 2022.

Future of the festival

Savage residents have celebrated the history of racehorse Dan Patch with the festival since the 1950s.

Events usually include a wine tasting, pancake breakfast at the fire station, a horseshoe hunt, a parade in downtown Savage and a weekend of live music, food and fireworks.

While many festivals are planning to continue this summer, organizers of Dan Patch Days said they were concerned about having one of the first events on the summer calendar.

The governor’s restrictions may change before the end of June, but the time had come for Dan Patch Days organizers to begin spending operating dollars on the festival’s insurance and licenses — dollars that would be lost if the event needed to be canceled.

That’s too much of a risk, Stock said.

So rather than roll the dice, the organization’s current reserves will be saved to power the celebration in 2022 and ensure the festival’s return after the pandemic.

Beyond the pandemic, Stock said the future of Dan Patch Days rests on community support and connecting with more volunteers.

“We need more people to volunteer to either serve on the Board, or to help out with the celebration,” he said. “It’s a fun organization to be involved with.”

The board meets once a month throughout the year to plan the event.

Stock said he hopes 2022 will help replenish the organization’s reserves and build up a strong future for the event — however, he thinks new ideas and new faces will play a critical role in making that happen.