WHITE, S.D. (KELO) – Another event on the list of cancellations due to COVID-19 would have been in White, South Dakota.
With just one week before the annual Pioneer Days, the city of White decided to cancel the event, but it wasn’t an easy decision.
“The issue comes down to if the city chose to have the event, it doesn’t align with the resolutions that have already been put in place. And if we don’t follow our own resolutions and do need to resend them to have one event, that counteracts why we put them there in the first place,” Aspen Thorstenson, Mayor of White said.
Those resolutions include health guidelines for businesses and restrictions on gatherings. After hearing about the cancellation from the city, the Pioneer Days committee asked for more input.
“We were shocked when the decision came down and that is why we asked then that it be brought to a vote by our city council and not just a decision by our mayor. That did happen, our city council did vote and we respect that decision,” Cheri Selleck, vice president of the Pioneer Days Committee said.
The final decision was made last night when the majority of the city council voted to cancel Pioneer Days, an annual festival that, according to this mural, started in 1980.
“We’re sad. We tried. We tried our hardest to make it safe for the public. Our main mission is for a community event to bring our local people together and have a great weekend,” Jennifer Olson, president of the Pioneer Days committee said.
Event planners said they did have safety measures in place for more cleaning and social distancing. Pioneer Days was set to begin next Wednesday.
“It’s really a strongly-endured event by the community and unfortunately this was a decision that had to be made to protect the public health and it’s really hard to follow CDC guidelines or guidelines from the Department of Health. So in the end it just ends up being not the best choice for the public health,” Mayor Thorstenson said.
The Pioneer Days Committee is sad to see the event cancelled, but they understand why.
“There was lots of perspectives and we fully understand both sides of the matter. Trying to keep public safe, keeping everybody healthy is important and we understand and respect that,” Olson said.
White isn’t alone. According to the South Dakota Department of Tourism, over 20 events in just the Northeast region of South Dakota have been cancelled.