Scenes from the 2019 performances of "The Nutcracker" from Robinson Ballet and the Bangor Symphony Orchestra. Credit: Courtesy of Sickled Foot Photography

Two beloved annual holiday events in the Bangor region have been canceled due to concerns about rising COVID-19 rates.

Friends of Fort Knox announced earlier this week that the Fright at the Fort, the annual multi-weekend Hallowen event held each October at Fort Knox State Historic Site in Prospect, will not be held for the second year in a row.

And on Thursday morning, the Bangor Symphony Orchestra announced that its yearly performances of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” with the Robinson Ballet will not happen again this year. The rest of the symphony’s concerts this season, however, will still happen in person.

The BSO did not officially announce plans for “The Nutcracker” along with its full season announcement back in August, because the BSO was never sure if it would be safe to hold an event that attracts so many children under the age of 12, none of whom are presently eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19, according to BSO executive director Brian Hinrichs.

“The Nutcracker is such a family tradition, and we did not see a path towards safely producing and successfully marketing to families with children of all ages this year,” Hinrichs said.

Instead of the full performances of “The Nutcracker” with both the orchestra and the ballet, the BSO will instead have a holiday pops concert, set for the night of Saturday, Dec. 18 at the Collins Center for the Arts in Orono, featuring BSO music director and conductor Lucas Richman, and soprano Hannah Madeline Goodman.

Robinson Ballet will still perform “The Nutcracker” without the BSO and instead with pre-recorded music, in smaller venues around the state, including Nov. 27 and 28 at the Grand Theatre in Ellsworth, and on Dec. 11 and 12 at the Gracie Theatre at Husson University in Bangor. Both sets of performances may have reduced capacity, according to Robinson Ballet artistic director Stevie McGary, depending on how COVID-19 transmission levels in Maine may change over the coming weeks and months.

The Fright at the Fort, typically held over several weekends in October, is one of the largest Halloween events in northern New England, and in recent years has attracted thousands of people. It also utilizes a small army of volunteers to act as fright performers and run the event.

Despite much of the Fright being outside, the challenges of producing such a complicated event were too much to make doing it this year worth it. Organizers also canceled the event last year.

“Even with support from the surrounding community and numerous organizations and individuals, the current COVID-19 environment has made it too challenging to hold a production of Fright worthy of its past and reputation,” Friends of Fort Knox executive director Dean Martin said in a Facebook post on Monday.

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.