© 2021 Maine Public
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

CEO Calls Impromptu Trump Rally At Orchard 'Frustrating'

Alex Brandon
Associated Press
President Donald Trump visits the Treworgy Family Orchards, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, in Levant, Maine.

The CEO of a Levant apple orchard that hosted President Donald Trump for a rally on Sunday says he was blindsided by the size of the crowd that showed up, and concerned by the lack of pandemic-era hygiene.

“I mean the whole event was quite surreal,” says Treworgy Family Orchards CEO Jonathan Kenerson.

Kenerson says White House staff initially proposed a low-key, private photo opportunity that the family should keep secret. But thousands showed up. He says the orchard is happy to host any visitors, including politicians, but not to hold political rallies.

“It was frustrating, but at the same time it was an honor to host the president. So it was a very conflicting experience,” he says.

Kenerson says the orchard requires visitors and staff to follow state guidelines for social distancing and face-coverings. But he says the president’s occasionally chaotic visit was controlled by the Secret Service.

The director to the Maine CDC, Nirav Shah, meanwhile, has so far not drawn a direct link from the event to the state’s escalating number of COVID-19 cases.

“Time will tell which path this one goes down, but suffice it to say that any gathering of that nature, without face coverings, where folks are close to one another, any gathering of that nature is a risk,” Shah said Monday on Maine Calling.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.