With cautious & hopeful optimism, Heart of Texas residents attempt to move past laundry list of beloved events cancelled due to COVID-19 mitigation
There’s no bones about it. This COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on Central Texas social activities for months now. Tentatively, some events have begun to start popping up on the calendar again. But only tentatively, because at any given time the Texas Governor might decide to tighten up COVID-19 related restrictions yet again.
As we move into Fall 2020, Heart of Texas residents optimistically hold hope that some of the much-loved seasonal events will finally be taking place. October and November are usually busy, busy social months with events like high school homecomings, the Bosque Arts Center Tablescapes, the Clifton Chamber of Commerce's Norwegian Country Christmas Tour, the National Championship Barbecue Cook-off in Bosque Bottoms and of course, the seasonal parades. And it’s supposed to be a full moon for Halloween On Main Street this year, so COVID-19 better have cleared the way for munchkins dressed up as ghosts, goblins and ghoulies to roam the streets in search of sweets.
First up will be the First Responder Appreciation Dinner on Sept. 10 in Meridian planned at the Bosque Bottoms Pavilion to allow for more social distancing, and take-out meals will be available. The next day, there will be a Patriot’s Day Ceremony at the Bosque County Courthouse, albeit in a pared down fashion. The beautiful new Meridian Amphitheater will be dedicated and christened the John A. Lomax Amphitheater on Sept. 19 with dignitaries and the Lomax family present. The Lucky Clover 4-H Golf Fundraiser opted for a “virtual” version, spreading the rounds of golf over a two-week period.
The General Election 2020 season shift into high gear Oct. 7 with the Bosque County Sheriff Debate between the Republican candidate Trace Hendricks and Democratic candidate Danny Ragsdale. A non-partisan political event sponsored by Southern Cross Creative and Meridian Grassroots, the debate will begin at 6 p.m. at the Meridian Civic Center.
Meridian’s National Championship Barbecue Cook-off remains on the books although the International Barbecue Cook-off Association – the cook-off's judging organization – does not have any barbecue cook-offs on its schedule until the beginning of October. Consequently, the NCBC board anticipates a lot of interest from cookers who want to finally get out and smoke some competition meats. Before the event on the fourth weekend in October, there will be a NCBC fundraiser dinner on Sept. 26.
Just looking back at Spring/Summer 2020, so many staple events of Heart of Texas were postponed or cancelled until next year. Some of the last events people could enjoy were the Rattlesnake Roundup in Walnut Springs, the Texas Independence Day activities, and the Clifton and Meridian Chamber Banquets. After that, all went silent.
Not wanting to make a bad situation worse, it's worth mentioning the important and much-loved social activities that were lost to the pandemic, leaving residents isolated and essentially quarantined for months. But it's a testament to the organizations looking out for their patrons, literally at the cost of their own existence or the scholarships they generate.
Besides the schools closing their doors and livestock shows being cancelled, one of the first events to fall to COVID-19 was the humanitarian Mission Meridian. In this beneficial community service project, Meridian First Baptist Church youth help renovate and improve homes in Meridian during their Spring Break.
The Bosque River Valley Daughters of the American Revolution annually deliver a heartfelt Honor Our Vietnam Veterans ceremony at the Bosque County Courthouse. The county’s Vietnam Vets missed out on an event that they much appreciate. Another DAR event that fell to COVID was their unique, often themed scholarship luncheon fundraiser as did the t Meridian Public Library’s big annual fundraiser and fun evening out, Jewels and Jeans.
COVID-19 threw a wrench in the works for a new, Meridian Parks and Recreation Department's signature event requiring a lot of organization and community support – an annual Chisholm Chili Cook-off in May. The organizers wanted to ensure the first annual event would be a big success and chose to cancel until next 2021 instead of postponing.
The successful and immensely popular Bosque Tour de Norway Bicycle Rally organized by the Clifton Chamber of Commerce in the spring was cancelled for 2020. Motorized steel steeds were not able to participate in the annual Niki de Mayo Motorcycle Run organized by the Horny Toad in Cranfills Gap.
The Bosque Museum’s colorful, nature-related, artistic Wildflower Show and Sale was postponed twice before the board decided to cancel an event in 2020 altogether. A much anticipated renovation of the Horn Shelter burial site recreation is going forward, but an official dedication/opening date is pending.
The county’s only Fourth of July Parade and Fireworks Show offering the best small town Americana show around in Valley Mills fell to COVID concerns. Another great small town Texas event, the Clifton Rodeo in July, with parade and carnival, was cancelled. The board anticipated an event in the fall, but a new date has not been announced yet.
Much to the dismay of its fans, the Memorial Day Weekend West Shore Volunteer Fire Department’s “Biggest Fish Fry in Texas” was cancelled out of public safety concerns. It is the fire department’s big annual fundraiser, so consider donating directly to the firemen and women, and the lake water rescue team on the Bosque lake side.
The Bosque Arts Center Big Event was postponed twice before the BAC decided to cancel the 2020 event altogether and regroup for a bigger, bigger, best event in Spring 2021. The prestigious Bosque Arts Center Art Classic in early September is going forward, but in a virtual format.
Music and art lovers missed out on an array of events at the Bosque Arts Center. Both the Showcase for Young Musicians and the Bosque Chorale Spring Concert were cancelled. The much anticipated Marsha Ball and Gary P. Dunn concerts were cancelled. Ball’s concert was rescheduled to Jan. 9, 2021. Dunn’s new concert date is pending. The 2020 Texas Troubadour Songwriter Classic was also cancelled, although judge Bill Anderson hopes to be present at the 2021 edition.
And the Tin Building Theater had to postpone its spring play production of Bad Medicine. Whether the play’s rescheduled Oct. 3 date is feasible all depends on the development of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The BAC also cancelled much-loved children’s summer camps like Imagination Factory and the Music Camp. And the book lovers Books on the Bosque was also rescheduled for next year. Also cancelled was the popular Quilt Show.
With Bingo Night being a successful, fun, regular fundraiser for the BAC, a complementary Casino Night special event was planned in the spring. Those wanting to satisfy their love of chance games and raising funds for the BAC will have to wait and see when these events are rescheduled.
Clifton Main Street's Fall Fest on the third Saturday of October, which fills the streets of downtown with a multitude of activities, was cancelled, as was the Hamilton Dove Festival and the crowd-pulling Bacon Bash in Cranfills Gap.
Even though it remains months away, the Our Saviors Lutheran cancelled their unique and coveted Smorgasbord Fundraiser. Lovers of Norwegian fare will have to make their own, or wait a year to savor the specialties like the cookies and the meatballs.
Please consider donating to one or more of the non-profit organizations that depend on the generosity of their patrons and supporters during their fundraisers and events.
On a more personal level, weddings were postponed or scaled down significantly. Rite of passage events like Quinceñeras, proms, graduations, award ceremonies were postponed, canceled or watered down. And Meridian High School alumni will miss out on seeing former school mates at the Annual Meridian High School Reunion on the first weekend of October. And no matter how many times we can tell ourselves we are fortunate not to have contracted the virus, these celebrations in life are greatly missed.
One day, all this uncertainty and worry and forced “wait and see” attitude will pass. All we can do in these trying of times is to keep the bible verse Romans 5:3-5 in mind:
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
And one thing we can count on, Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. on Nov. 1, 2020, and with it, the opening of whitetail deer hunting season in Texas. But with the way things have been going in 2020, the bucks will probably decide to social distance as well.
Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS
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