Correction: This article misreported the dates when the Festival of Crafts and Santa Breakfast would be held at the Enumclaw Expo Center. The correct dates are Nov. 20 – 22. The article has been updated.
With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing and Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home-order extended, some of the Plateau’s biggest summer events are being postponed or canceled, which could bring additional financial difficulties to local businesses over the next few months.
The biggest event — the King County Fair — is still scheduled for late July as usual, but Enumclaw Expo Center Executive Director Rene Popke said a decision will be made about the fair after May 4, after print deadline.
“I think even if the fair is canceled we will still try to do something for the 4-H kids so they can qualify yet for the State Fair,” Popke said in an email. “We are also going to continue with the Livestock Show even if we do the sale virtually. But fingers crossed we can figure something out for fair!”
Two other Expo Center events, the annual spring Community Swap Meet, originally slated for mid-April, and the Food Truck Roundup, which was to be hosted May 2, have been postponed.
So far, the Expo Center appears to still plan on hosting the second-annual Balloon Glow on Aug. 22, the Enumclaw Pro Rodeo on Aug. 27-29, and the Festival of Crafts and Santa Breakfast Nov. 20-22.
Also postponed is the annual Buckley Log Show. In a statement posted to its Facebook page, the event coordinators said the June competition and festivities will move to Aug. 22 for the kids competition, and Aug. 29 and 30 for the main show.
“This is not a decision we have made lightly,” the post read. “However, we feel with the current COVID-19 guidelines it is the best choice to make at this time.”
But while other events have been able to find some flexibility, it looks like the Highland Games has decided to just cancel the annual gathering of the clans at the Expo Center, which is normally held near the end of July.
The Games are organized by the Seattle Scottish Highland Games Association, which was formed in 1947. Last year, more than 21,000 people attended, including competitors, vendors, and attendees.
“[It’s] so sad. At this point, we’ve been the sixth oldest continuous games in the United States,” said Sharon McBride Ritelis, a board member and former president of the association. “This would have been our 74th year. [COVID-19] kind of blew that statistic out of the water.”
McBride Ritelis said they officially canceled the event on April 1.
“We were right on the verge of getting 100,000 brochures printed, 700 posters, and starting to do contracts of all the different things that we rent and have at the Games to make it happen,” she continued, adding that her organization doesn’t have large sponsors that would help them eat the cost of organizing the Games to just have to cancel it at the last minute anyway.
Additionally, a lot of international travel is involved, adding another layer of complications.
“We bring in judges from outside of country. Well, because of the coronavirus, the ability to get fast track visas was canceled back in March. So usually we start getting our visas in April, and it just takes a matter of 6 to 8 weeks to bring these judges in… without the fast track visas, it would take 6 to 8 months,” McBrine Ritelis said. “A lot of our competitors are from out-of-country. A lot of Canadians come down… it seemed like so many unknowns were piling up.”
In the end, the Seattle Scottish Highland Games Association believed it was best to not put the Games on this year in order to have “a brighter future,” she continued.
However, with their largest revenue stream gone for the year, the association is hoping those who normally enjoy the Games can donate during Washington Big Give event this year, which is being held May 5 and 6.
“We hope that we’re able to raise enough money” for future games “because we still have five huge storerooms where all the athletic equipment and tents and so much of our equipment gets stored all year,” McBride Ritelis said. “Those fees still have to be paid.”
To donate to the Seattle Scottish Highland Games Association, head to https://www.givebigwa.org/SeattleScottishHighlandGames.