By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
It is decision time for large summer events such as the Sisters Rodeo and outdoor concerts.
Will the shows go on or won’t they?
Central Oregon Daily News spoke with three major event organizers and got three different responses.
The Les Schwab Amphitheater has five major concerts scheduled this summer including Dave Matthews Band and Luke Bryan.
As of now, the venue is planning on hosting those concerts at 100 percent capacity, or 8,000 people per event.
“April 16 is what the Governor has put out as to when the vaccine will be readily available,” said Marney Smith, Les Schwab Amphitheater general manager. “If we wait two months after that, that’s enough time for people to get the vaccine, who intend to get it. Then it should be safe for us to have outdoor events at full capacity with the additional safety measures in place, so that’s what we are moving forward with.”
The Sisters Rodeo, scheduled June 9-13, does not have the same luxury of time for COVID vaccines to take effect in the general population.
Its board of directors meets Tuesday night to decide what to do about this year’s rodeo.
The Cascade Cycling Classic is in a similar wait-and-see situation.
The famous cycling stage race is trying to reschedule from June to August.
“Void of specific guidance from Oregon state health authorities, Les Schwab Amphitheater is taking a bit of a blind leap with best practices,” Smith said.
Les Schwab Amphitheater is planning ways to reduce crowding through additional points of entry, cashless food and beverage sales and increased sanitation.
All event staff must be immunized and wear masks.
“People are coming to hear the show but also be part of the community in that concert environment. If you see 12 of your best friends across the venue, you aren’t going to stay in your hula hoop. You’re going to go get them, unless I’m physically keeping you from doing that which physically changes the experience,” Smith said. “We want to host concerts when it is safe to do so at full capacity.”
Events like the Sisters Rodeo, Cascade Cycling Classic and concerts at Les Schwab Amphitheater are planned months and sometimes years in advance.
Deschutes County’s current High-Risk COVID rating is making decisions to hold events even harder.