Note: This story was updated online with additional information not included in Thursday's print Tribune.
After holding out hope that it could postpone three of its signature events until after the COVID-19 pandemic abates, Lewis-Clark State College decided to pull the plug completely Wednesday.
A news release from the college said the 36th annual Art Under the Elms craft fair, the 30th annual Confluence Grape & Grain, and the annual Dogwood Show and Shine are now canceled. All events were originally scheduled for April, but were postponed because of restrictions on large gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic.
“The precarious nature of the health and safety standards due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the future uncertainty of the virus caused organizers to be concerned, since each event takes a lot of staff time and investment in order to provide a quality experience for event goers and the artisan vendors," Debi Fitzgerald, Center for Arts & History and Continuing Education director said in a statement from the college Wednesday evening.
Deep budget shortfalls brought on by the COVID-19 crisis forced layoffs and furloughs at the college, and support staff were among those affected.
"Events of similar size and function around the (Pacific Northwest) are also being canceled – many throughout the early autumn months," Fitzgerald said. "Grape & Grain has attendance of over 275 – with a lot of eating and drinking and up-close interactions. (Art Under the Elms) has an average attendance of 14,000, and while it is held outside, the safety regulations for distancing and hygienic maintenance would be difficult to manage. As for next year, we are planning for the events to be on schedule and quite manageable. Plans and discussions are underway.”
The move by the college contrasted with the decision Wednesday to go forward with another Dogwood Festival event, the 43rd Seaport River Run, which was postponed to July 25. City of Lewiston Parks Recreation Supervisor Jayson Ulrich said organizers are making changes to help protect the health of participants.
“We are working on some guidelines and plans so we keep everyone safe during the event,” Ulrich said.
The event will now have two starting lines at Kiwanis Park on Snake River Avenue to help people maintain healthy social distances, for instance. There will also be a shuttle from the finish line at Hells Gate State Park, and runners are encouraged to leave their vehicles there so they can immediately leave after the race if they choose, Ulrich said.
Vendors at Hells Gate will also be spaced more widely. Ulrich said a decision hasn’t been made on whether to require runners to wear masks, but organizers will pay attention to guidelines from public health officials and the governor’s office to make that call.
Ulrich said he hopes the event will demonstrate that the community can safely put on a large-scale event. Those who want to sign up for the race may find forms at the Lewiston Parks and Recreation office at 1424 Main St. Forms will also be available at area businesses, and online registration is available at www.raceentry.com.
Art Under the Elms was initially postponed until a July 24 start date when Little’s restrictions on gatherings were first imposed. The Dogwood Show and Shine had been postponed to July 26, and Grape and Grain until Aug. 14.
Another well-known valley event was also canceled Wednesday, as organizers of Rockin’ On The River announced on their Facebook page that they won’t stage a concert this year.
The outdoor show is usually held each August at Gateway Golf Center in Clarkston. No perform had been identified for this year’s show; Vanilla Ice was the headliner of the 2019 concert.
The Clearwater River Casino & Lodge, which has been closed since March 18, announced that it will reopen Friday.
Measures will be in place to mitigate the risk of COVID-19, including temperature screenings for staff and customers prior to them entering the facility, enhanced cleaning and sanitation, social distancing requirements, mask usage, and no smoking, the casino announced in a news release. The casino will be open from 8 a.m. to midnight Sunday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
Some areas of the facility will be repurposed for additional space for gaming machines to promote social distancing, and safety measures will be in place at the casino’s restaurant, cafe and bar, the news release said.
“We have taken the last couple months to ensure we are taking every necessary precaution,” Nez Perce Tribe Enterprises Executive Officer Kermit Mankiller said. “We want all of our customers and staff to feel safe while in our establishment. We are excited to welcome back all of our customers and we look forward to providing everyone with our legendary hospitality.”
Nez Perce County announced two new positive cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday after several days with no new cases. One case was in a person in their 50s and the other was a person in their 70s, according to information posted online by Public Health – Idaho North Central District. One of the new cases was a male and the other was a female.
Whitman County announced one new positive COVID-19 test result Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases there to 19. The new patient is a male between the ages of 20 and 39 who is stable and isolating at home, according to a news release. Sixteen of the 19 have recovered and three are stable and isolating at home.
Whitman County Director of Public Health Troy Henderson said the positive test will not affect the county’s ability to cautiously reopen its economy under the Phase 2 restrictions mandated by state officials. That would only happen if there is a significant outbreak of new cases, he said.
There were no cases reported Wednesday in Asotin and Garfield counties, according to health officials there.
Bishop Gretchen M. Rehberg of the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane announced that the summer camp ministry located on Lake Coeur d’Alene, Camp Cross, will not hold its 2020 summer season because of the pandemic.
Mills may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 848-2266.