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Crooked Creek Days continue with smaller crowds, social distancing

Linda Norton held her great-grandson Tyler Westercamp during the annual parade at Winfield’s Crooked Creek Days. Norton said she felt fine sitting outside and social distancing but was more vigilant when visiting in indoor spaces. (Ashley Duong/The Union)
Linda Norton held her great-grandson Tyler Westercamp during the annual parade at Winfield’s Crooked Creek Days. Norton said she felt fine sitting outside and social distancing but was more vigilant when visiting in indoor spaces. (Ashley Duong/The Union)
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WINFIELD — Traci Miller has attended Winfield’s longstanding annual event, Crooked Creek Days, every year since she moved to the town two decades ago.

“I think my favorite part was watching my kids have a good time. Just seeing them run around with their friends,” she said. Even as her children have grown up and moved away, Miller continues the tradition with her seven grandchildren, who visit her the first weekend of August to participate.

But this year, with the pandemic, Miller said there have been some changes to the usual celebration.

“There weren’t as many people at the parade or in the parade. Usually my grandkids are in it … Everything seems downsized. There’s usually a lot more going on, but I get why,” she said.

Local children, who are used to a bustling weekend, also chimed in on things they missed.

Brinley Kinneberg, a soon-to-be third-grader at Winfield-Mt. Union said she was excited to have participated and won her Big Wheel race but was sad to see the carnival downsized.

“My favorite part is the monster ride. This year, they don’t have that,” she said.

Seven-year-old Laney Sloan, whose family has attended Crooked Creek Days for more than 25 years, said she missed the usual fireworks show.

The three-day event features music entertainment at night and a host of fun activities during the day, including water balloon fights, a parade and a car show, but concerns surrounding health lead to smaller crowds and families more spaced out as they enjoyed the summer event.

Jennifer Huston, chairwoman for Crooked Creek Days, said the town decided to move forward with the event because “people were tired of being cooped up inside.”

The chairwoman said the town usually sees about 400 to 500 people show up for the evening drawings but was expecting many fewer this year.

“Usually our buttons for drawings are sold out by Friday night. We still have quite a few right now,” she said on Saturday afternoon. Like other events and organizations, the pandemic has hit Crooked Creek Days’ ability to raise money.

“We decided to put it together, and anyone who was comfortable could come out and enjoy and support the community,” she added.

But even with safety precautions and warnings in place, some residents didn’t feel as comfortable with the event.

Lexis Tran and Lythe Proffitt, local high school students who walked through the event as they finished a shift at J & J’s pizza, said they’re usually excited to participate in the band as part of the parade and enjoy food at Crooked Creek Days, but with the pandemic, didn’t know if the event should have taken place.

“I think more people should be wearing masks,” Tran said.

Still, for many, the pandemic was not a deterrent to enjoying the event.

Families with young children were excited the event was still being held, especially in light of other cancellations.

Becky Norton, who brought her three grandchildren and elderly mother to enjoy the parade on Saturday morning, said the group, who traveled from New London, was there for the first time.

“There’s nothing much else to do. So I was looking online and saw this, and we decided to come,” she said.

Like the Stogeill’s, Becky said she and her grandchildren didn’t feel any apprehension about coming to the event, Becky’s mother, Linda, was being more cautious.

While sitting outside and observing social distancing is fine, Linda is more vigilant when going into indoor spaces.

“If I go into a store, I always put on my mask,” she said.

Similarly, siblings Randy, 69, and Henrietta Stogeill, 72, who attended Winfield-Mt. Union Community School District as children and have enjoyed Crooked Creek Days for just as long, said they felt no hesitation about showing up.

“We weren’t worried, no,” Randy said, “It’s just a lot of fun.”