Sonya Staffan has two stores in Lebanon, the Oh Susanna clothing store and the Jam and Jelly Lady, which sells personalized jams. For the country music festival, she will deploy the Jam Session (black raspberries, blackberries and strawberries).
During the limitations of COVID-19, Staffan improvised by adding products to his website, fighting over raw materials (there was a shortage of jars), buying air purifiers and masks, organizing a weekly online show and sale on Facebook, and offering free delivery to locals. residents.
“We weren’t doing anything anyway,” Staffan said. “It was fun to drive and to have a goal. In fact, we had a very good Easter because no one was going out and our deliveries were made without contact. “
Although Staffan was never in danger of losing her businesses and didn’t have to worry about her employees (most of them retirees who love the job), she often felt on the front lines of things. anti-maskers, a small but extremely vocal crowd. The exhaustion of being confronted with them caused Staffan to be shut down in January 2021 for five weeks.
When people walked in without a mask 75% of the time it was because they had just forgotten, ”she said. “The remaining 25 percent… we’ve been called the worst names in the world. Some people would go to their cars, go to social media and write nasty things under each of our posts, telling people to boycott us. When asked if the fact that her employees were among the most vulnerable population had an effect, she replied, “I don’t think they care.
Staffan herself contracted a difficult case of COVID-19, which included 13 days bedridden and a hospital stay. She feels lucky to be alive.
“And yet,” she said. “I knew there were still people in my stores, defying my staff, knowing I was in the hospital with (COVID-19).”
Fast forward to the present, with restrictions fully lifted, and Lipton and Stannan have said COVID-19 protocols for the festival will be minimal. The masking is voluntary. Stannan has an occupancy limit of 15 people for its stores. Lipton said they would close Broadway Street as well as Mulberry Street to traffic to provide more space-spaced seats.
“This will be the biggest festival in Lebanon (since COVID-19),” Lipton said. “We can’t wait to have people here who haven’t been here for 16 months, and for the locals to come out and see friends in a party atmosphere.
Historically, Stannan has said she does about 10% more business during the festival than on a typical shopping day.
“We did a show,” she said. “We go into the theme of things by wearing cowboy hats and boots. People are charmed by it and come back. People tend to buy small foods: local jams, syrup and honey, bread mixes. I love that we get together in a healthier way. Last year we still had a few small festivals, and that worried me. Everyone is looking for an opportunity to celebrate, to feel normal again.
Lipton said that downtown Lebanon, like the banks in downtown Cincinnati, is a DORA space, where people can buy alcoholic beverages and haul them outside. There will be domestic and craft beers, wine, cocktails and seltzer. Food will include barbecue, tacos (conventional and Korean), ice cream, pineapple whips, funnel cakes and more.
Finally, there is the programming of artists and country groups: two on Friday evenings and seven more on Saturday. The Saturday night headliner is 90 Proof Twang, a popular regional group. In the meantime, everyone is ready to drop 2020 into a memory hole.
“When I look at my (financial) books,” Stannan said. “I’m not even looking at 2020 for comparisons. I’m looking at 2019. ”
How to get there
What: Lebanon Country Music Festival
When: June 11-12, 6-10 p.m. Friday, 12 p.m.-10:45 p.m. Saturday
Or: Mulberry Street Plaza, Lebanon
Cost: No entry fees
More information: www.mainstreetlebanon.org