Feature Article - November 2021
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Getting Back Together

Events Get Back on Track, With Safety Front & Center

By Deborah Vence

Chatham County, North Carolina

The plan in Chatham County, N.C., is for events to be held in-person.

"Plan A for our fall events include outside and in-person gatherings, based on guidelines from our local health department. Plan B would be to switch to a drive-through event. We are prepared to move forward with either version of our events this fall," said Mallory Peterson, program supervisor, Chatham County government, parks and recreation.

In terms of how Chatham County is managing the safety and marketing of events to ensure they are successful, Peterson said that "We are currently marketing all our fall events and programs with a clause that states: 'COVID 19: All programs and events are subject to change and will follow the required restrictions and mandates of federal, state and local officials.' Events are marketed so the community knows they will take place outside and that we are prepared to switch to Plan B if necessary.

"All of our events in fall 2020 to spring 2021 were hosted as a drive-through event. Participants stayed in their vehicles the entire time and drove around to different stations to collect goodies and handouts. Volunteers and other community groups helping pass out materials wore masks and gloves to minimize contact," she noted. "This summer we offered a modified in-person summer camp program, and an outdoor Movie in the Park series. Additionally throughout the year, we offer asynchronous programming such as fitness challenges, story walks, scavenger hunts and more."

Last year's Holiday in the Park in Chatham County was hosted as a Holly Jolly Drive-Thru. "Participants got to view Christmas lights, collect a craft, reindeer food, a candy cane, handouts from other local organizations and had the opportunity to wave at Santa and give him a letter," she said.

This year, however, the plan is to have an in-person Holiday in the Park, but, if necessary, another drive-through would be hosted. Planned activities include holiday-themed crafts and games, pictures with Santa, tree lighting, and more.

In addition, there also are plans to host an in-person Trunk or Treat Fall Festival. Peterson said the event also would be modified to a drive-through, if necessary. Scheduled activities include pumpkin carving/pumpkin painting, Halloween-themed games and crafts and more.

The Colorado State Fair

This year's state fair in Pueblo, Colo., which was held from Aug. 27 through Sept. 6, offered a variety of entertainment and things to do and see for fairgoers.

Scott Stoller, the fair's general manager, said that the Colorado State Fair was working closely with the CDPHE and the Pueblo Department of Health and Environment to ensure safety at the fair. "We continue to coordinate with public health officials and follow the most current guidance for both indoor and outdoor events," he said.

This year, the fair put a focus on holding more events outside, with visitors being strongly encouraged to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. It also was strongly suggested for everyone to wear masks outside, if they were unable to socially distance.

"Additionally, we have offered a generous refund policy for all ticket holders in the lead-up to the fair, in case their plans have changed, and will also have free face masks onsite to anyone who needs one," Stoller said.

What's more, Coloradans were being encouraged to receive the COVID vaccine. One of Colorado's nine mobile COVID-19 vaccination clinics was present at the state fair from Aug. 27 to 29 and again from Sept. 3 to 6.

"The vaccination bus offers gift cards as incentives to those who get vaccinated. Anyone 12 and up is eligible for vaccination at the mobile clinics," Stoller said, adding that both Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines were available. RM