Fireworks, free throws… canceled?

by Josh McDonald
Staff Reporter | June 9, 2020 11:49 AM

Kellogg City Council set to decide fate of popular events

KELLOGG — The fate of several of the larger annual summer community events in the Silver Valley may be decided Wednesday at the city of Kellogg’s June city council meeting.

While there are several events that traditionally happen throughout the busy summer months in the Silver Valley, the annual Fourth of July celebrations and Silver Hoops 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament rank among the largest; as well as the weekly Community Market. With concerns surrounding COVID-19, combined with the proximity to the beginning of Gov. Brad Little’s final stage of the Idaho Rebounds plan, there are no guarantees that these events will still happen.

These Kellogg events are not the only ones who have had to make tough choices regarding big events.

In May, the Wallace Blues Festival Committee made the difficult decision to cancel the annual Blues Festival, which was scheduled for the second weekend in July, amid concerns from city councilors and residents regarding folks traveling to the area from out-of-state (or hot-spot) areas. Other Wallace events such as Depot Day and Gyro Days were also canceled amid COVID-19 concerns.

Kellogg mayor Mac Pooler is hoping that he and the city council can accommodate the events, but his concerns lie with two major factors; Visitors from other communities cross, including those crossing state lines, and how will the groups responsible for the events handle the larger groups from a cleanliness and sanitation point of view.

"Our concern is large amounts of people coming in for large events," Pooler said. "The chances are greater for outside people to bring the virus here. And we don't want to be in the same position Bonneville County was in."

Bonneville County has experienced a high number of new cases since Idaho began reopening, with many of the positive cases belonging to people in their mid-20s.

The Silver Valley Chamber, which hosts many of the events that go on in Kellogg, stands to lose its two biggest summer events if the Kellogg City Council follows its neighbor’s lead.

Chamber President Tara Lodi, who has already had to cancel popular June events Kids & Kickstands and Kegs & Kickstands, understands the difficult position the city is in, but would still like to see her organization’s big events happen.

“It’s a tough call and there’s mixed feelings either way you look at it,” Lodi said. “We have to do what’s best for our community and ensure that we’re limiting any possible exposure to the best of our abilities. Some of the bigger events draw crowds from outside the area, which does increase risk of potential exposure to COVID-19. However, most of the events take place outdoors where it is far more effective to be able to social distance. We definitely want to pursue some of our summer events and get back to some sort of normalcy, with increased precautions in place.”

Lodi also discussed how the warmer weather should also play a positive role in keeping the events on schedule, due to the fact that the increased heat helps to reduce the longevity that COVID-19 can survive on surfaces.

If the city does vote to allow large events, the Chamber Board will then be tasked with deciding if it can effectively and safely pull off the event in a limited time frame.

“We will most certainly need to lean on our community and will ask for volunteers to help with execution of these events,” Lodi said. “At the end of the day, we want to do what’s best for our community and we will modify our approach as needed.”

The Kellogg City Council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 6 p.m., but because of concerns for public safety, the meeting may only be attended telephonically.

The agenda for the meeting can be found online at kellogg.id.gov.

To listen in on the meeting, call 208-901-7313.