The coronavirus has robbed small towns of their fun summer festivals and celebrations.

Osakis is responding with a brand new event – Taste of Osakis on Saturday, Sept. 12.

It will include food trucks, live music, craft vendors, shopping specials and other activities starting at 10 a.m. and continuing until 7 p.m.

The idea sprang from Osakis businesses, and the Osakis Chamber of Commerce picked it up and ran with it, according to Cory Abers, chamber president.

“The Osakis Festival and Moonshine Madness were canceled and the businesses were looking for an opportunity to let people know, ‘Hey, we are still here and want you to come enjoy Osakis,’” Abers said.

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Osakis businesses have been impacted by shutdowns, reduced occupancy and slow sales as they work through COVID-19, Abers said.

“We all understand the seriousness of COVID and have made changes or adhered to restrictions to continue to operate,” said Abers. “The Chamber and businesses felt the event could be put on in a safe manner. The businesses want to showcase themselves and the community of Osakis.

“Our businesses are owned by our family, friends and neighbors” Abers added. “We want to stand by these people and show them our support. A strong and thriving community is made up of these businesses and the people they employ. They are the backbone of a healing and ultimately healthy economy.”

Local restaurants and food trucks will offer a variety of “street style” food items from steak kabobs and bacon-wrapped jumbo shrimp on-a-stick to corn dogs, shaved ice and funnel cakes.

“We have restaurants really embracing the fair food thing with items you will only be able to get one time this year,” Abers said. “Many missed out on the fairs this year and we will have plenty of food that will meet the fair food fix.”

There will also be beer stations and drink specials going on, along with an outside pull tab booth.

Erickson’s Petting Zoo will offer pony rides for the kids, along with wagon rides around town.

Several COVID-19 precautions are being taken, Abers said. All vendors and event areas, for example, will be set up in a manner that allows for social distancing.

“We have a lot of space to work with as we will have three streets shut down plus the large open city lots to work with,” Abers said. “We will have a nice flow to ensure we don’t have areas that would be bottlenecks. We will have plenty of hand washing stations and hand sanitizing stations set up as well. Plenty of signage will be placed reminding attendees of the guidelines.”

Craft vendors will be going from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Panther Distillery will offer tours. Other activities include live music by Junkyard Caddy, featuring 57 Chevy, from 1 to 5 p.m.; a big truck show all day; a bean bag tournament at 1 p.m., free USA Axe throwing at 4 p.m.; bingo in the street for “chamber bucks” and a gun, starting with registration at 4:30 p.m.; O-Town Tavern will have a deejay from 5 to 9 p.m and the Bowling Barn will have a deejay from 8 p.m. to midnight.

“We just want people to come out and make a day out of it,” Abers said. “There are so many things to do and try with all the commerce benefiting our local businesses. Show them support through this difficult time.”

When asked if Taste of Osakis could be brought back next summer, Abers was quick to respond: “Absolutely! We are always looking for fun and new things to bring to the area and if it goes well, we would for sure look to do something in the future.”