WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — An event that brings in thousands of dollars to Vernon’s economy for 30 years is one of COVID-19’s latest victims.
This cancellation comes just prior to Governor Greg Abbott requiring everyone to wear facemasks in public in counties that have more than 20 COVID-19 cases which goes into effect Friday.
Mayor Pam Gosline said it was but like many events not just here in Texoma but across the country that has been canceled, the goal is to limit the spread of COVID-19.
For the first time since its inception, Summer’s Last Blast in Vernon will not go on as scheduled as officials continue the fight against the virus.
“We back the mayor on this decision,” Vernon Street Machine Classic Association’s President Jim Gryseels said. “We started talking about it in our meetings back in March, what are we gonna do.”
Vernon Street Machine Classic Association has been putting on the annual Summer’s Last Blast for the past three decades.
“It brings back memories to me, makes me feel young again laughter,” Gryseels said. “We’ve had as many as 10,000 people on the road watching the event.”
While organizers hoped the Last Blast would bring some form of normalcy to the city, they agree with Gosline that the number of people who would potentially attend the event would threaten the health and safety of citizens in Vernon.
“I really felt like we were just opening our doors to invite hot spots to come to Vernon,” Gosline said. “Our numbers are low, we’ve been at seven for several weeks, we’ve only had one hospitalization.”
The cases have risen to ten but Gosline said the goal is to keep those numbers contained.
Gosline said she knows though the city will take a huge hit in revenue.
“Hotel-motel tax, sales tax, it’s going to be lost, but I looked at it and weighed if we bring a lot of the infection to Vernon, and our hospitalizations increase and our businesses get infected did we really gain anything,” Gosline said.
Both Gosline and Gryseels said while this was a tough decision, the hope is to return next year, bigger and better.
Those who have registered for the event have the option of transferring their registration to next year, find contact information here.