As the coronavirus continues to spread, Dells officials work to prepare city events and activities for the eventual resumption of business as usual.
The city’s reshuffling began when Jenifer Dobbs, festivals director for the Wisconsin Dells Visitors and Conventions Bureau, announced the annual Automotion Car Show is pushed back from May to September due to COVID-19. But while Automotion is the city’s flagship event during spring, it is far from the only date that has changed due to the disease.
The Rare Barrel affair, an annual beer tasting event originally scheduled for April 18, has been cancelled, as it falls within the set dates of Gov. Evers “safer at home” order. The Dells’ spring wine walk was scheduled for April 24, but it has been cancelled as well. According to Dobbs, the WDVCB had little choice but to cancel these events in the interest of public safety.
“The Rare Barrel Affair was supposed to be this Saturday, we cancelled that,” Dobbs said. “The spring wine walk was supposed to be Friday the 24th and that was cancelled already. And then we postponed Automotion.”
Rare Barrel and the wine walk are the only events that have been officially cancelled, and the department is looking to postpone rather than cancel as of now. Just as they did last year, the city will run nightly entertainment on an outdoor stage at the corner of Broadway and Cedar Street, however the first show will not be until the second week of June.
The opening of the farmers’ market has been pushed back as well, with opening day set for May 30. Since the market deals primarily in food sales, it is classified as an essential service under Evers’ order, but Dobbs said that officials don’t want to take any unnecessary chances.
“We’ve made the decision to hold off on starting (the farmers’ market) on May 8, and we’re going to wait until the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend,” Dobbs said. “Even though farmers’ markets are considered essential because it’s food, we still thought it would be in everyone’s best interest to keep people healthy, to just push it out a few weeks.”
Dobbs acknowledged that Evers may extend the safer at home order past the current April 24 cap, but she said that the city has not been informed of any extension as of now.
Dobbs’ bureau plans many of their larger events, such as the annual Fourth of July celebration, in collaboration with the Business Improvement District committee, chaired by Tara Anchor. Anchor said that since the committee has not had a meeting since the COVID-19 outbreak worsened in the United States, little planning has been done.
“We’ve been basically told they only wanted the utmost important meetings to be meeting right now,” Anchor said. “So we actually won’t have a meeting until April 29, and we might do that virtually. So the plan right now is to meet on the 29th, somehow or another… we’ll be getting together with the bureau and looking at some of the cooperative efforts we’ve had with them to see where we are.”