International Street Fair in Orange canceled for the first time since the early 1970s

ORANGE, Calif. (KABC) -- For the first time since the early 1970s, the International Street Fair in the city of Orange will not take place.

Although the event was scheduled two months from now, organizers say they had no choice but to cancel, but they held out on the decision for as long as possible.

Tradition aside, the street fair benefits about 50 non-profits that are mostly from Orange, many of which use the event as their single source of fundraising for the entire year.

"Our hearts really hurt for these non-profits because we see that they're going through during this time and they're not only being affected just from fundraising for their individual groups, but personally as well," said organizer Adam Feliz.

The cancellation also adds insult to injury for local businesses that benefit year after year from visitors who come from near and far, like the historical Watson's Soda Fountain & Cafe, in the heart of Old Towne.

"There's over 400,000 that come through that do window shopping at our restaurants and look and at the end of the day, we'd like them to come back," said owner Bill Skeffington.

Skeffington says if it weren't for his asphalt company, he'd be in the unemployment line. He says restaurants are tough enough to operate at a profit and it makes it near impossible when you add coronavirus restriction such as only being able to offer outdoor dining.

"To restart and close down a restaurant and restart it up again, it's thousands and thousands, tens of thousands of dollars involved in it. It's just tough," he said.

Despite this week's discouraging decision, fair organizers have their eyes on the 50th anniversary of the street fair in 2022.

"We're not going anywhere. We're gonna be here. We're gonna continue to do this, virtually this year, in person next year," said Feliz.

The street fair organization is also a non-profit and is seeking donations to help with overhead costs. It also wants to be able to provide for the other non-profits that are missing out.
Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.