Organizers for a handful of Jefferson County events are in a holding pattern, waiting to see how the COVID-19 crisis evolves before making a final decision on whether or not to hold their events.
If canceled, Basin Day, Clancy Days and the Jefferson County Fair will deliver not only an economic blow, but perhaps a psychic one for the respective communities, according to organizers.
The Jefferson County Fair and Rodeo is the “grand finale of the summer,” said Fair Board Chairperson Terry Minow.
It is also a reunion of sorts for those who grew up here, she said.
“People look forward to bringing their entries, seeing their friends and neighbors, hearing live music, relaxing together. It’s a very important community event,” said Minow.
The Fair can attract up to 1,500 for that weekend, said Minow.
So far, the Fair is still on for Aug. 27-30, and the Board plans to meet May 21, but Minow doesn’t expect a final decision at that time.
Clancy Days, which is being pushed back until later in the summer, has a long history in the community, going back 50 years, said organizer Mickey Senecal.
It had been scheduled for June 13.
The one-day event, which features vendors, games, competitions, live music and a chance for local school children to perform, has attracted up to 2,000 people in the past, said Senecal.
If the event does go on, Senecal anticipates it will be well attended as folks have been shut in for so long.
Senecal said some residents wanted to make Clancy Days more of a tourist event, but the committee wanted to keep it within the community. The event isn’t viewed necessarily as a fundraiser, but it does benefit local restaurants that sell food at the event and any additional revenue can go to a local organization or the Clancy School.
Clancy has a grade school, but not a high school, so it’s an opportunity for multiple generations to see each other, said Senecal.
“It definitely is a community event and hopefully helps to draw the community together,” she said.
If the committee does decide to have the event later in the summer, it will perhaps be a simpler affair,” she said.
“Nobody knows where this COVID-19 thing is going,” said Senecal, adding that the committee plans to meet the first of July to reevaluate the situation.
Basin Day is still scheduled for Aug. 22, but the committee is waiting to see what Gov. Steve Bullock will do with the phased lifting of restrictions, said organizer Gail Hale.
Currently, Montana is in Phase 1, which allows for groups of up to 10 people. Phase 2 allows groups of up to 50 people, while Phase 3 is business as usual.
The criteria for moving from one phase to another is included in the governor’s April 22 directive, and depends on several factors, to include the ability of public health officials to monitor new cases and conduct contact tracing, as well as hospitals being able to treat COVID-19 and non-virus cases safely.
Basin Day is a fundraiser for the town’s community hall, as half of the proceeds go to its maintenance and repairs, said town resident Melanie Sako.
The day includes a rubber duck race, vendors, live music, a cake walk featuring locally baked cakes, a chili cook-off and more.
Sako describes Basin as a sleepy community where residents mostly keep to themselves, but Basin Day is a time for them to get out, see their neighbors and show some community spirit.