The Downtown Thursdays promotion in Owatonna has taken off in its first couple of years of existence. However the current health pandemic means the event will take a year off. MainStreet Owatonna announced Friday, "Based on official state event guidance, Owatonna MainStreet will cancel the 2020 Downtown Thursday season in response to COVID-19.

The evening offers combines music in the park with arts and goods vendors set up in the street downtown. Special food trucks and trailers circle Central Park. Downtown businesses are open special hours. Officials estimate a combined 8,000 people attended Downtown Thursdays in 2019.

In the news release, MainStreet states, "We know this is a great disappointment to the Owatonna community. Downtown Thursdays are a highly anticipated social event and generates important revenue for many small businesses. However, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic's uncertainty, and in light of the public health risks inherent in gathering crowds, canceling Downtown Thursdays is the responsible thing to do."

It is the latest of the signature summer events in Owatonna to be forced off the calendar in 2020. This week the Steele County Free Fair was canceled. Smokin' in Steele BBQ and the From the Heart Run fundraising events also have been scratched.

In news from the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism (OACCT), they recently announced the Jumpstart Owatonna program. The goal is to raise money to provide grants to local businesses to help meet needs in particular areas due to hardships.

Owatonna chamber president Brad Meier discusses the Jumpstart program during a recent Facebook Live entry on the OACCT page. Meier also talks about what restaurants will be able to allow when outdoor dining begins on Monday, June 1.