Downtown Fridays in Santa Maria
Customers add seasonings and condiments to the roasted corn that proved popular at Downtown Fridays in Santa Maria. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk file photo)

The Old Town Market in downtown Lompoc won’t occur in 2020, but Santa Maria’s Downtown Fridays organizer was clinging to hope that the event still could get off the ground — albeit later than once planned. 

The Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce announced the cancellation of Old Town Market because of the COVID-19 public health emergency restrictions regarding social distancing and large gatherings.

“The decision to cancel Old Town Market in 2020 was difficult, yet necessary to preserve the public health and safety of our community members, vendors, volunteers and staff,” said Amber Wilson, Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive officer. “It is difficult, at best, to comply with state and county social distancing and large gathering guidelines in an event like Old Town Market, and with so many unknown factors in the distance, we are unable to move forward with planning this year.”

Old Town Market, typically held each Friday night with a different theme, had been planned from early July through mid-August.

Organizers said they hope to host Old Town Market in summer 2021.

Both Old Town Market and Downtown Fridays offer a variety of food, vendors and entertainment as weekly street fairs in each community.

In Santa Maria, the organizers of Downtown Fridays had hoped to debut the delayed weekly event on July 3 and end the season Oct. 30 or later.

However, that is dependent upon the local reopening plan entering stage 4, so a final decision is expected later this month.

The event, which marks its fifth year in 2020, initially had targeted March 27 for the season-opener until the coronavirus stymied those plans. 

“We are working with the city and county to make sure that when we do open it will be a safe environment,” organizer Ed Carcarey said last month on social media. “This could include some elements of social distancing at the events and rearranging how the event is set up. 

“Our city needs something fun and exciting to look forward to, and I believe that Downtown Fridays will be a welcome relief.”

The current plan means Downtown Fridays still could take place for at least four months, not six as planned.

For the fifth year, the event will get a new home a slight distance away from its original locations but still in the Santa Maria Town Center West parking lot. 

Downtown Fridays debuted in 2016 as a way to boost activity in Santa Maria’s downtown core.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.