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We can at least move forward knowing that this community is full of creative people who can keep big events going

Crook County folks have gotten pretty good at working around this pesky pandemic that has dramatically changed local life and events this spring and summer.

For one, the COVID case numbers have stayed pretty low compared to other counties throughout the state. When restaurants were forced to shut down, the town was sporting a bunch of take-out food options within the same week. And, when it was time for local government and health leaders to pull together and present the state with a good case to reopen those restaurants and other businesses, the information was sent off for evaluation as soon as possible and Crook County was among the first counties to get cleared for dine-in eating and other once-restricted options.

We haven't avoided everything. It was pretty heartbreaking to see the Crooked River Roundup rodeo and races take the year off. It was strange to spend the end of June and beginning of July without the iconic annual events.

But Roundup leaders and community members still managed to give the town a small taste of the Roundup. A parade was held that wound through several neighborhoods. It featured some rodeo royalty and some other floats – a part of the Roundup experience we assumed was tossed out with the rest of the cancelation.

Then, the same type of reimagined events emerged when the Band of Brothers held another parade through town, complete with show cars, candy throwers and floats. And we still had a fireworks show from the Ochoco Viewpoint at 10 p.m.

Speaking of the Viewpoint, a group of citizens pitched in recently to offer volunteer clean-up help at the state park. It had been closed to the public due to a lack of manpower to keep it clean. Now, thanks to their help, people can head up there and take in the unique view of Prineville.

More recently, Prineville was the home of a revamped Relay for Life event. In the past, event leaders had set routes at Ward Rhoden Stadium at the high school or the fairgrounds, but this year they opted for community campsites at different locations throughout town. By doing campsites in the community, organizer Pam Jackson thought it brought more awareness to the effort since the campsites were more visible. She added that in past years they had more advertisement and signs, but they had more positive feedback than they anticipated by having camps around town instead. Altogether they raised approximately $24,000 during the event. Pretty impressive, given the limitations the event faced.

And just this past weekend, Crook County held the only fair in all of Central Oregon. Fair leaders were able to offer livestock showing and static exhibits online, offer concerts and other entertainment and even provide multiple educational booths. While some of the fair still took place at the fairgrounds, a large portion of it was moved into downtown Prineville to prevent large crowds and stay within COVID-related guidelines.

Who knows how long this pandemic will last? But as we all cross our fingers and toes and hope for an end in the near future, we can at least move forward knowing that this community is full of creative people who can keep big events going.


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