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JeepFest will roll

Organizers ask public, business to make their own decisions regarding COVID issues

Staff reports

 Sheriff Donnie Craig said last week that the 2021 JeepFest will continue as planned, opening on September 2 and continuing through September 5th for the 10th anniversary offroad event here.

 Pre-registration closed Sunday with 1,317, a number consistent with previous years. In 2019, the 9th annual JeepFest drew 2,340 registered Jeep owners. It had grown in attendance every previous year, except in 2020 when it was cancelled.

 The sheriff took issue with criticism he saw online that they were proceeding without considering the input of others.

 Craig, who founded the massive offroad event 10 years ago to raise funds for non-profits, said in fact it’s quite the opposite. “We have talked with other elected officials, taken input and considered this with our board and other advisers and then we decided to move ahead. We believe that each business is best positioned to decide for themselves how they want to handle the COVID situation. And people who want to attend, may attend and those who have concerns, do not have to go to anything. This is no different than a ballgame.”

 Craig further noted that the Sheriff’s Foundation board will continue to monitor the situation and, like all, hope and pray they will see improvement in COVID numbers between now and the Labor Day weekend event. Information provided to registered Jeep owners asks them to watch the event’s Facebook posts for real-time information should worsening COVID numbers force a change.

 Aware that JeepFest contributes significantly to the local economy, organizers encourage businesses to think about how they could handle increased crowds, whether that may mean masks or curbside pickups or even being closed should the business owner decide.

 “It will be up to the businesses,” the sheriff said. The number of visitors brought in is significant for businesses and non-profits, so organizers feel a responsibility to continue as safely as possible.

 Organizers also want to point out, that for trail rides and the obstacle course, a Jeeper would face no more risk of COVID exposure than driving your car down the road. All events are outside and anyone concerned can avoid crowded areas, like the Friday night show-n-shine and concert downtown.

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