AuSable River Canoe Marathon, Festival Canceled For 2020
Many festivals and big events in northern Michigan have been forced to cancel or postpone due to the coronavirus.
The AuSable River Festival and the Consumers Energy AuSable River Canoe Marathon, usually held at the end of July, was not immune to those struggles.
Local authorities, emergency management, AuSable River Festival officials and Marathon committee members made the tough decision to cancel this year’s festival and race.
This is the first time in almost 50 years and only the second time in its existence, the race will not be held. The last time it was cancelled was in 1969, when there wasn’t enough support between committees to have the race.
“After much meeting and trying to figure out what ways we could make this work or try to change the event and keep it’s integrity, it basically came down to we don’t have a crystal ball for the future and when it comes to the distancing or the crowds we just couldn’t come up with a plan that officials or the committee could live with,” said Phil Weiler, the spokesperson for the Marathon committee.
Both the festival and the marathon bring people from all over the world to Grayling and Oscoda, which creates an economic boom for the area, but also brings up concern with COVID-19.
“We know that this is important for them [local businesses] especially during these times but we want everybody to be safe and that’s our number one priority,” said Traci Cook, Executive Director of the Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Even though not having these events is a disappointment, the committee members want to keep the message positive and have everyone stay safe.
“I think the paddlers and the sponsors have been very understanding,” said Weiler. “I hope they still come out this summer get some time on the river and hope that they see our local businesses.”