The Central Oregon Sportmen’s Show, one of the region’s most attended annual events, has been canceled following the governor’s declaration Wednesday to ban all mass gatherings across the state.
More than 20,000 people and nearly 300 vendors were expected to attend the 21st annual event, making it the second biggest event at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center behind the County Fair itself.
“In just the last 24 hours we have gone from taking a number of actions to provide hand washing stations and safety information to ultimately closing the show,” said event organizer Michelle Helm-Carpinelli. “To say this situation has moved fast is an understatement.”
Gov. Kate Brown made the announcement Wednesday night she was placing a ban on all gatherings of more than 250 people statewide for four weeks to try to stop the spread of COVID-19. She said she would have more information during a press conference on Thursday morning.
Officials with the show on Wednesday night said they would wait to hear what Brown would say Thursday before making a final decision. They ultimately decided to cancel the show in the best interest of the community, exhibitors and staff.
“This decision is particularly difficult given our 10 months of preparation, high hopes to deliver our best show ever and the effort of our hundreds of exhibitors and local businesses whose business will be impacted by this decision,” Helm-Carpinelli said. “This situation has developed rapidly, we have been watching it closely to understand the risk to all-involved and ultimately that risk is too severe for us to open the show.”