Organizers canceled this summer’s Douglas County Fair on Tuesday morning, the latest in a series of summer events to fold in the wake of COVID-19 restrictions.
The press release said the county had hoped to continue the annual tradition, originally scheduled to begin Aug. 4, but Gov. Kate Brown’s announcement last week that mass gatherings would be prohibited through at least September led to today’s decision.
“The health and safety of our fairgoers, the 4-H and FFA members, competitors, performers, sponsors, vendors contractors, volunteers and staff is the top priority of the Douglas County Fairgrounds Complex and Fair Board,” the press release said.
Tuesday’s news comes after Monday afternoon’s announcement that Graffiti Weekend had been canceled.
The weekend, which consisted of 22 different events in 2019, joins a slew of other local and state events that have canceled due to the pandemic and state gathering restrictions. Kool Coastal Nights, a similar event held in August in Winchester Bay, announced its cancellation on Thursday.
“It’s with great sadness that we are officially canceling Graffiti Weekend for this year,” said Graffiti Weekend Committee Chairman Jeanine Coffey on Monday.
Coffey said that organizers knew the cancellation was coming when Gov. Kate Brown released restrictions on festivals, concerts, and other large gatherings over 25 people, but an official decision to cancel could not be made without a committee vote. That vote took place Friday night.
“Everybody is really sad and disheartened, but for the health of Douglas County and everybody from out of town and out of state that would have come, it is just better not to have that influx,” Coffey said. “Douglas County folks are pretty darn resilient, obviously — that’s why there are so many recoveries and no deaths here from this illness — but no sense taking a chance and potentially making the situation worse.”
Sutherlin resident and longtime cruiser Walt Dickover doesn’t agree with the cancellation.
“Personally, the way I feel about it is that it is stupid (to cancel),” Dickover said. “If anybody thinks it’s dangerous, they can stay home. They don’t need to go.”
Dickover said that Graffiti Weekend, especially the Saturday night cruise, is a family tradition for him and his family. The 1940 Coupe his son owns was a gift from Dickover for his 18th birthday. The car has been driven in the cruise for years, first by Dickover in the ‘80s and ‘90s, then his son and two oldest granddaughters. This year was supposed to be the first year his youngest granddaughter drove.
“I guess she will have to drive next year. We are really disappointed that it has been canceled,” he said. “There have been 25 cases (of COVID-19) in Douglas County. That’s from Reedsport to Diamond Lake. So the chances of somebody having it and just walking through downtown Roseburg is damn slim.”
Dickover hopes that local car enthusiasts will get together and do their own cruise.
“I’m sure there is a lot of my friends from around here that do it every year that are going to be just as disappointed and they’ll probably want to have a renegade one,” Dickover said. “That’s how it originally started when they did it on Harvard. We will just get together with a bunch of guys some Friday night and drag the gut like we used to. Like one of those flash mobs, we will just meet up and go from Harvard to Garden Valley or something and flip off the Brown stain.”
Former Umpqua Flatheads Car Club president Dave Owens also hopes local drivers will do their own version of the cruise.
“A mini cruise where they don’t have people really getting together is a possibility,” Owens said. “They usually have a rest home cruise and they could do that without stopping, actually, and have people watch them go by. I think people will be getting together to do small cruises, but not anything big and organized like the usual event.”