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Is it time for a car show? City sends event plans to state's COVID-19 task force

Is it time for a car show? City sends event plans to state's COVID-19 task force

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Cars on view

A visitor eyes a 1941 Willy's Roadster at the 2018 car show in Elko's Main City Park.

ELKO – Elko City Council is hoping the Nevada COVID-19 Task Force will agree at its Thursday meeting to allow the Rides and Rods car show to be held Sept. 11-13, with social distancing efforts in an outdoor setting even though the event could draw 3,000 people.

“We need to put our heads together to make this happen. Everyone is feeling the pinch right now. We need to be creative,” Elko Mayor Reece Keener said early in the discussion before the council decided to reach out to the task force.

The council agreed Tuesday to submit a proposal for the car show that outlines how the event could be safely held, such as limiting segments to 50 people as required under Gov. Steve Sisolak’s current directives.

“This plan needs to be presented to the state Thursday,” Keener said.

City Manager Curtis Calder put together the proposal that also includes requests for a special event liquor license for the limited Elko County Fair on Sept. 4-7 and a special event and liquor license request from Benavides Bucking Bulls LLC for a bull riding event at the fairgrounds Sept. 12.

Elko Convention and Visitors Authority Chairman Matt McCarty encouraged the council to “allow these events to move forward so the Elko community can still be a place to recreate and have fun.”

Calder submitted the proposal Wednesday to Elko County to be included in the new county plan that goes before the state task force Thursday when it meets at 10 a.m. The council tabled action on the three events pending what the task force decides. A special meeting might be called.

Calder warned during the meeting, however, that should the council approve the special events while the city is still in the White House’s red zone and under strict restrictions, the city could be in trouble, especially because the city accepted CARES Act money.

Car show organizer Stormy Remington said there have been “a lot of preregisters already” for the event, and Jeff Remington told the council that the car show would be a “really safe family event.”

The mayor asked the Remingtons if they could hold the event in October instead, but Jeff Remington said obstacles include the weather, and the T-shirts and awards are already done for September. A Sept. 11 tribute event also is planned.

“I don’t think it would work,” he said.

“Do you understand what we are up against?” Keener asked. Remington said he understood Elko is more restricted than many other places.

Giovanni Puccinelli of the Elko County Fair Board said he understood the council’s dilemma, especially since the fair board toned the fair down to mainly a livestock competition for young people and horse judging events in light of the pandemic.

He said the plan would be to rope off a table area and have servers from the Cowboy Bar bring alcohol and food to customers. There also will be separations in the grandstands and COVID-19 restrictions. The governor’s restrictions don’t allow people to sit at bars or be served from bars.

The Gold Rush Challenge Bull Riding event’s plans include temperature screenings, masks, spread-out seating, sanitizers and volunteers to keep restrooms clean. Benavides Bucking Bulls estimated there would be 50 to 100 people from out of town, and the crowd would not be as large as the one for the recent Silver State Stampede.

In the proposal Calder submitted, he wrote that the city “respectfully requests approval of an outdoor event, specifically a car show on Sept. 11, 12 and 13 in accordance with Directive 021.” He said the show would be limited to 250 entry vehicles spread out over more than one acre of outdoor space, and vehicles would be parked in 10 separate areas within Elko City Park, the Elko Convention Center and Elko Conference Center areas.

Councilman Chip Stone had suggested in the meeting that the city show how spread out the show would be and use math to prove there wouldn’t be more than 50 people in an area.

Each area will contain up to 25 cars and event staff will monitor each area to be sure there are no more than 50 at one time, Calder wrote. He said there will be no bar tops or bar seating and any seating/standing areas will be limited to 50 at one time.

Regarding the Elko County Fair and Livestock Show, he stated that this is an outdoor event, and the board has already decided against horse racing and pari-mutuel betting that were the main attractions. Safety measures will be in place.

Calder also attached the bull riding plan, and he wrote that the organizer would be following COVID-19 restrictions.

The county has prepared a plan for the task force Thursday following guidelines in the state’s “Road to Recovery: Moving to a New Normal.”

Amanda Osborne, director of personnel for Elko County, said in an email Wednesday that “because Elko County has been identified as a high-risk county based on the three elevated disease transmission criteria, we enter what is called the assessment process with the task force.”

She said that the process “requires the county to submit a jurisdictional assessment and action plan for review.”

Osborne said the cities of Elko, Carlin, West Wendover and Wells provided feedback.

Elko’s designation as a “red zone” means there were 100 new cases per 100,000 population in the prior week and a test positivity rate above 10%. There also is a criteria involving enough hospital space, which Elko County Commissioners have pointed out is not a problem.

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