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Whitehouse Cherry Festival is back this weekend, with no restrictions in place

Festival-goers and vendors say it's a blessing to be able to gather again without wearing masks or social distancing.

WHITEHOUSE, Ohio — One of the largest festivals in the area is back in full force.

The Whitehouse Cherry Festival took off on Thursday and without any restrictions. 

Organizers said the fest is all about smiling families, fair food, and the rides.

It's back after being canceled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"It feels great. The Cherry Fest is a tradition for our family so we really missed not having it last year. So, we're just excited that it's back. And that we get to come out and restart a family tradition," Stacey Brown said, who was enjoying the festival with her children and husband Joe.

Festival sponsor Steve Rogers Ford said more than 9,000 visitors are expected throughout the weekend. 

"That's a big economic impact, but I think there's also a health impact where you can get out and be in the fresh air and visit with neighbors and kids can play outside again. I mean, that's the part I think everybody's really looking forward to is getting out," Steve Rogers Ford General Manager Jason Gorr said.

The event is coming at a time when nearly all pandemic restrictions and orders have been lifted.

"During the pandemic, we stayed home all the time, you know? No outings like this. We go to, from time to time, we go to the park or something. But this is the first time going to an outing like this, with the big community together. So, it feels great," mother of three, Minhui Jo said.

"(It) feels like we're just back to normal and things are going. And once again, you still have to be cautious. But in that too, getting your shot and being ready for that welcoming of other people," grandmother Kathy Estep said.

Vendors also said these big festivals are what they depend on to keep their businesses thriving. 

"Because if we don't have those, it makes it quite difficult to, our fairs don't actually start 'til about the middle of July so you know, we to have these festivals is a big, a big blessing," Frank's Fries owner Cindy Zaker said.

The blessing for families is to keep their traditions going. 

"Having fun; being able to have family outings, 'cause that's very important to the core of who we are as a family," Estep said. 

The cherry on top is seeing a child smile, without having to wear a mask.

Cherry Fest continues through the weekend, picking up at 11 a.m. Friday and ending Saturday night at 11 p.m.

For hours you can visit this website for more information.  

Admission and parking are free.