A competitor prepares to rope a calf during the Vale 4th of July Rodeo. For now, the rodeo is set to go but organizers are wary of the unpredictable nature of the Covid virus. (The Enterprise/File).
VALE – The organizers of at least two major local venues plan to move ahead this summer while a third traditional event is still considering its plans.
After a year hiatus, the Malheur County Fair and the Vale 4th of July Rodeo are on schedule to kick off in July and August but organizers for the Nyssa Nite Rodeo said they haven’t decided yet to go ahead.
All three venues cancelled last May because of Covid.
The fair closed for the first time in 111 years while the Vale 4th of July Rodeo – first established in 1914 – was shuttered for the first time in its history.
The Nyssa Nite Rodeo was prepared to celebrate its 75th anniversary last year when organizers canceled.
Yet with Covid cases continuing to drop locally, the door is open to a return of the traditional events.
Now Malheur County is in the moderate risk Covid category which means outdoor entertainment events are limited to 25% capacity and must close by 11 p.m.
The Vale rodeo helps ring in the nation’s birthday and the county fair is scheduled this year from July 27 to July 31.
The Nyssa Nite Rodeo is usually held the second weekend in June.
“We haven’t made a decision yet. We have to have the money to put it on. We want to do it but have to be able to do it,” said Kim Speelman, Nyssa Nite Rodeo president.
In Vale, Rodeo President Kurt Haueter said plans are set but a lot remains dependent on Covid and the restrictions connected to the virus.
“We are planning on moving forward as usual and hoping things change (in terms of restrictions) between now and then,” said Haueter.
Haueter said he and other rodeo board members will keep a close eye on the High Desert Stampede in Redmond March 26 to help gauge crowd sizes and other possible modifications.
“There are options I think we are looking at. We plan on doing it and the community is behind us but you can’t predict what it will be like in July,” said Haueter.
Lynelle Christiani, county fairgrounds manager, said the fair will occur, though it could look a little different than in the past.
“It will depend on where corona is as far as how it will look. But we have the rodeo scheduled, the entertainment scheduled and all of those kinds of things,” said Christiani.
Christiani said she is framing an event plan to submit to the Malheur County Health Department but even in a worst-case scenario the fair will happen.
Christiani said plans call for the fairgrounds to be divided into quadrants closed off with a fence and with food and bathroom facilities.
“So, we could have 300 people at Girvin Hall or at the commercial building or on the rodeo end. If corona is exactly like it is today, we should be able to have 1,200 people in our facility at a time,” said Christiani.
Best case, said Christiani, would be for the fair to open as usual with few or no restrictions.
“I have zero idea what will happen between now and then,” said Christiani.
Erika Harmon, public information officer for the county health department, said the risk level at the time of each event will determine “maximum occupancy and other safety precautions.”
“The Malheur County Health Department supports the community’s goal to gather safely this summer for outdoor events and we believe it can be done if we all work together,” said Harmon.
News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]
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