Organizers cited uncertainties posed by pandemic in nixing popular event this year

NEWBERG GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - The Willamette River will remain quiet at the end of the month as the annual Memorial Weekend Boat Races have been canceled.Organizers announced last week that an annual rite normally scheduled for the end of May has been canceled in an abundance of caution brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It is with heavy hearts for all the members of the Newberg Boat Club (NBC) and Columbia Outboard Racing Association (CORA) to feel necessary to cancel the 72nd annual Memorial Weekend Boat Races for 2020," a press release from Don Schmidt and Brant Bolicar, race directors, said.

The organizations said uncertainty of whether the pandemic will extend into late May — coupled with Gov. Kate Brown's ban on gatherings of more than 10 people and not knowing how many participants and spectators would attend — forced the decision to suspend the popular event.

"Not knowing if the tremendous amount of organizations and individual people we count on to volunteer would be there to help out," reinforced the decision to nix the races on the Willamette River at Rogers Landing this year.

"This was a very hard decision to reach, but we feel it is the right decision under the circumstances," Schmidt and Policar said. "Keeping everyone safe and healthy is of our utmost concern."NEWBERG GRAPHIC FILE PHOTO - Drivers will not get a chance to tear up the Willamette River course at Rogers Landing this year after it was announced the annual Memorial Day Boat Races have joined other events canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The annual event typically draws hundreds to the county marine park south of Newberg every year. Drivers from across the Northwest, California and British Columbia, Canada, typically travel to the event to test their skills in categories ranging from vintage runabouts to screaming tunnel-hull hydroplanes.

The race will return in May 2021, the release said.

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