On Monday night the Grantsburg village board unanimously voted to postpone one of the largest events held annually in Burnett County. A Watercross organizer asked the village board for a vote, saying the event needs the village's support.
Rick Quimby, Grantsburg Watercross Executive Director, spent the last month talking to anyone he could about Watercross. He noticed that similar large venue events are being canceled, citing Minnesota and Wisconsin State Fairs along with Pine and Polk County fairs and the Spooner Rodeo.
Quimby continued that there are two sides to this – one side is worried about the health risks and the other side has told Quimby they “gotta have it” this year. He added these are longtime attendees that told him “we need to get out and do things, take the risk.”
Village President Mike Longhenry said several people have discussed it with him about the concerns they have abut large events being canceled.
“At the grocery store, people come up to me and say, 'we do this, everybody and their brother is coming to Grantsburg,'” Longhenry said. Trustee Diane Barton said the people that talked to her about it had health concerns with the retirement age population in the village.
Trustee Greg Peer, owner of Shady Knoll Home said his residents were still on lockdown.
“The residents are uncomfortable with a bunch of people around,” Peer said. “That's their opinion and I'm going to side with the residents.”
Quimby was not disappointed in the board's decision.
“We knew this was the route,” Quimby said. “This is a great event that supports the community. But we understand we need to put the community as a whole first.”
Quimby said a 10-year UW-Extension study that suggested Watercross brings in $1 million across the entire county.
“This is going to have a huge economic impact,” Quimby concluded. “It's going to have an impact on the entire county not doing it this year.”