Greater Dolores Action has announced that the 17th annual Dolores River Festival on June 6 has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The event usually draws about 1,500 people to hear a dozen local and regional bands perform on two stages at Joe Rowell Park. Forty-five vendors attend and there’s a river parade, free raft rides and kid games.
But to protect community health, organizers felt it was best to skip it this year.
“It is with deep regret that we must cancel the river festival. This year is just too risky,” said Scott Clow, president of Greater Dolores Action.
Colorado is under a stay-at-home order. Other public health orders prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people and require social distancing of at least 6 feet between people.
It is unclear whether those restrictions would be lifted by June 6, said festival producer Susan Lisak.
“Even if they did, turnout at the festival likely would be pretty low because of the danger of the virus,” she said. “There is a lot of fear right now. We don’t want to risk anyone getting sick.”
Postponing the event was also not seen as practical.
Low turnout would threaten the future of the festival. Its annual budget of $40,000 is raised from the previous year’s event and the annual Telluride Mountain Film on Tour festival, which was rescheduled to Oct. 17.
“By canceling this year, next year we will be in good position to restart the event,” Lisak said.
This year’s cancellation of the river festival will have an economic impact in Dolores.
According to an economic analysis by Fort Lewis College, the event injected $72,000 to $85,000 in the local economy in 2017.
The analysis found that event attendees and vendors spent an average of $13 at businesses around town, 43% of it on food and drinks.
About 11 percent of people who came in from out of town stayed in hotels.
Surveyed festivalgoers came mostly from Dolores, Cortez, Mancos and Durango, but also from New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Texas.
Durango event postponed, Farmington cancelsOrganizers of Animas River days in Durango have postponed the event from May to June 12-13.
The annual whitewater paddling festival in Durango features river surfing, stand-up paddling, freestyle kayaking, boater-cross, raft and slalom, inflatable rodeo, and costumed river parade.
“We are doing all we can to move forward because we feel people need something to look forward to in these difficult times, but we also know that the health and well-being of our community comes first,” board member Hope Tyler said in a statement.
The national kayaking championship was to be held at Animas River Days for the first time. Contestants would have been battling for a spot on the U.S. Kayak Team.
Farmington also saw one of its beloved summer festivals canceled this week. The River Reach Foundation decided to cancel its annual Riverfest.
Riverfest, which is held along the Animas River trails at Berg and Animas parks, includes activities like river rafting, live music, 5K and 10K runs, a Native American market and dance, wiener dog races, a fine arts show, disc golf tournament, and a beer and wine garden.
The foundation’s board met Thursday to discuss the event, originally scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, May 22-24, and ultimately decided to cancel it, said Karen Lupton, an event organizer.
“As an organization, we support the governor’s orders to maintain social distancing and limit gatherings to ensure that all members of our communities stay safe and healthy during the current COVID-19 pandemic,” the board said in an emailed statement.