By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
The 21st Annual Central Oregon Sportsmen’s Show was ready to roll on Thursday – right until it wasn’t.
Hours before the doors were to open on one of the region’s biggest events, the show was canceled – following Gov. Kate Brown’s ban on events larger than 250 people in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“As expensive as it is, as difficult as it is, as disappointing as it is, it’s the right thing to do,” said Trey Carskadon from O’Loughlin Trade Shows. “Our company, O’Loughlin Trade Shows, we are governed by that. We have a responsibility to everyone involved and put people ahead of profits, and that’s what we’ve done.
This is the first event O’loughlin Trade Show organizers have canceled in 80 years of business.
Disappointed. Frustrated. Upset. That’s what vendors said they were feeling as they dismantled their booths on what would have been the first of four days for t Sportsmen’s Show.
“It doesn’t hurt us that bad because we are already booked but we feel for people who sell at the show here because they were expecting a bunch of people to come through here and make some money so it really hurts them bad,” said Shawn Steen with Steen’s Wilderness Adventures.
Rick Hieronymus, The Sunglass Guy said he stood to lose $5,000 to $7,000 this weekend alone. Washington is considering shutting down a show in Spokane, he said, which eliminate another big chunk of cash.
The losses vary.
All Seasons RV & Marine sells an average of 30 trailers at the show. Now they are towing them back to the dealership hoping for a rebound as people decide to go camping instead of risking exposure to coronavirus on airplanes and cruise ships.
Dwayne Miller of Back Country Horsemen of Oregon, said he appreciated the call to shut it down.
“Myself, I think it’s a good thing that it’s been canceled to stop the spread as much as possible.” Miller said. “There will be a lot of people going through here. A lot of possibilities for people contracting it if anybody has it in here and they won’t know it for 14 days.”
It wasn’t all bad. The few children of vendors still at the fairgrounds had the trout fishing pond all to themselves.
And rather than waste thousands of dollars of meats they brought to the cooking competition, the chefs treated fairgrounds staff and remaining exhibitors to a feast.
“We got rib eyes going on. We’ve got an alligator going on. We got pork going on. We’ve got some sausage. We’ve got some burgers over here,” said Vic Clevenger, the MC for the cooking championship. “We’re cooking all the stuff that would be ruined otherwise.”