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The Roundup board exhausted every option, but in the end, none of their ideas would work

The most significant change to Crook County's summer event slate was made official Friday as the Crooked River Roundup Board of Directors announced that it was going to cancel the rodeo and associated activities this year. It is the latest in a long line of events that have faced the hatchet because of the COVID-19 outbreak and restrictions on social gatherings.

This may not come as a surprise to many, but everybody in the community had their fingers and toes crossed that the Roundup would somehow get spared. After all, it wasn't planned until late June, more than three months after the closure of schools, bars, restaurants and other "non-essential" businesses.

Oddly, the announcement comes at a time when a push to reopen the local economy seems to have some legs. Local restaurants and other businesses may indeed open — likely this month. The worst part of the pandemic, locally, seems to have passed — but things will be far from business as usual. Social distancing isn't going away yet. Reopening will come with a list of rules to keep people from spreading the novel coronavirus.

It was, therefore, hard for Roundup leaders to fathom a scenario where they held the rodeo, which draws hundreds to the outdoor arena and thousands to the community, and still follow the social distancing rules designed to protect our health.

The Roundup board tried to make it work. They exhausted every option, but in the end, none of their ideas would work. Board President Jason Snider said it is heartbreaking and that might be understating it. Not only is this the first cancelation in the history of the iconic event, it just happens to fall on a 75th anniversary that was treated with more fanfare than usual. Roundup leaders declared 2020 the Year of the Cowboy. The Roundup queen coronation was upgraded to an elegant gala.

This couldn't have been an easy decision and the announcement could have been made in a fatalistic, hopeless manner. Nobody would have faulted that approach – this is, after all, a huge disappointment with far-reaching effects on the community and its summer tourism season.

But Roundup leaders didn't go that route. While you could hear the disappointment in Roundup announcer Marty Campbell's voice as he broke the news on a Facebook video post, he kept the message positive. He reinforced the importance of protecting the health of the community and the rest of the world through social distancing. He recalled times when the community banded together to save past Roundups and encouraged people to team up once again in the name of public health. And losing the 2020 Roundup was characterized as a 2021 re-ride.

The community could take a lesson from this approach. We could also turn lemons into lemonade. Perhaps businesses and community leaders could find other ways to celebrate Crook County's cowboy culture and Western heritage. Maybe, we can still decorate in late June and find creative ways to celebrate the Roundup — even in the absence of the rodeo. Let's all make the best of this difficult situation.


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