The Swamp Monster ventured out to Longswamp Community Park in Mertztown to visit with area residents at the 2nd Annual Swamp Fest on Sept. 13.
“The main importance of carrying out Swamp Fest is that the community needs to repair the physical and mental health issues of being locked out of doing what we Americans do and that is live life to the fullest,” said Longswam Township Supervisors Vice Chairman Mike Sacks, a Parks and Recreation member. “No one was forced to attend and the individuals looking for relief were able to find it that day without a prescription.”
The Longswamp Township Parks and Recreation hosted the socially distanced festival from morning until dark.
“If you would judge highlights by attendance then it would be the Mushball Tournament, but after seeing everyone's faces, it was all the activities being held that day,” said Sacks. “Historical Scavenger Hunt, Kids Scavenger Hunt, Jack Mack on display, hot and cold food, Lions Club Sight test, Mini Car Show, Crafters Row, Swamp Monster & Toad Costume Contest, live music, hot air balloon rides and the visit of the Swamp Monster in person.”
Out of the five teams that participated in the Mushball Tournament, TCOC was the winner of the Mushball Championship over the Shamrock Sluggers.
"Everyone had a good time," said Mark Hilbert of Mertztown.
The Swamp Fest fun also included kids’ activities, an American flag retirement ceremony by Longswamp Boy Scouts Troop 575, and live music by James Supra Band and the Blue Mountain Gang, as well as Swamp Fest buttons, magnets and mirrors.
The event was also scheduled to conclude with fireworks but had to be canceled in advance due to the weather forecast.
“If it rained we were informed the township would lose their payment,” said Sacks.
“What made this a success was it was not cancelled. An extremely high number of outdoor events have been cancelled over the COVID-19,” said Sacks. “Everyone was looking to get out of their lockdown state of being at home.”
Comments from attendees included support for anyone that wants to socially distance and another saying that it is important for people to get out of the house for mental stability. Another said this is an essential event social creatures were delighted to attend and called this a wonderful event.
"I support anyone that wants to socially distance, the incidents of outdoor virus infection according to the medical community is a statistical 0. I will be judged according," said Steve Wilson of Kutztown.
Sacks credits volunteers for making the event successful, including all the volunteer help from the Park and Recreation Committee and the Blue Knights Motorcycle Club, a non-profit fraternal organization consisting of active and retired law enforcement officers who enjoy riding motorcycles.
Sacks was unable to give an exact total headcount but at one point the event saw about 197 attendees at the Mushball Tournament, “Well within the 250 guidelines by the Governor.”
“Swamp Fest had four areas each able to hold 250 giving a total of 1,000. Even the Governor's Office approved our layout and sent a letter accordingly,” said Sacks.
Social distancing and masks were required. The walking flow was in one direction. Do not enter signs, one way and enter signs were posted on either sides of the walkway to direct attendees and help maintain social distancing during the event. Lilly pads with lines going left to right with 6 feet spacing marked paths for social distancing.
“Follow the CDC requirements when social distancing cannot be obtained,” said Sacks.
Everyone participating in food serving, players of the Mushball Tournament, band members and volunteers had their temperatures taken and listed on the name chart.
The response from attendees was positive.
“All attendees had no issues with following the social distancing because they have been doing it for months, though the use of lily pads as social distance makers may have helped,” he said.