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Cancel, modify, proceed as planned? Summer event managers in Southern Colorado making tough choices

ferris wheel CO State Fair
Posted at 7:10 PM, May 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-29 08:06:29-04

COLORADO — The next couple of weeks are crunch time for event and festival managers dealing with COVID-19 restrictions. Do they proceed as normal, modify for COVID-19, or cancel?

“We have a strategy plan in place to make a decision by the end of June,” said Colorado State Fair General Manager Scott Stoller. A decision on canceling the State Fair is nearly unprecedented. It happened once, more than 100 years ago. “1917 for World War I,” Stoller said. “So not a normal thing to be asked, Is the State Fair going to happen or not?"

Fair managers are working with public health to see if a full fair is possible. "Staff is working double duty because we're taking a 50/50 approach, which path we're going forward with," said Stoller. Work is also happening on alternative plans. "Plan B would be to have onsite activities for 4H & FFA youth to do their market livestock projects." Alternatives place extra emphasis on young people who have spent the year raising animals for competition at the fair.

Colorado Springs Sports Corporation organizes a half dozen major events. "Just like everybody else out there we're having to adjust,” said Aubrey McCoy with Sport Corp. “We're having to be creative, be innovative."

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb has been pushed to later in the summer. The Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb remains on schedule. The Rocky Mountain State Games sports events could be spread out over several months rather than the usual two weekends.

Plans for the 4th of July fireworks in Colorado Springs are transforming. "It's not feasible really to host 70 to 90 thousand people in Memorial Park right now," said McCoy.

The portion of the event titled “in the park” now reads “on your porch.” Ten locations are now mapped across Colorado Springs where fireworks can be viewed while multiple radio stations broadcast music. "Theoretically everybody in the community could see the fireworks form their porch, obviously that's not completely 100% possible, but the goal was to have something north, west, east, central, south." McCoy say in terms of people this could be a large event, only people will be spread across the community instead of crowded at one event.

The ascent portion of the Pikes Ascent and Marathon just canceled. The marathon portion is moving forward, but, organizers are monitoring the ongoing effects of COVID-19.

Organizers of events scheduled for late summer and fall are monitoring the status of the pandemic. They hope it eases and their events can happen as planned.