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Pow Wow Days cancelled, future dates explored

Other regional events like Plamondon Mud Bogs and rodeo circuit won't have summer shows

One of the region's largest and longest-running summer celebrations joins the worldwide list of events cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

When news came last week that provincial health officials were forcing all summer events with attendance of more than 15 people to be cancelled, organizers of the Lac La Biche Pow Wow Days and Fish Derby were already contemplating how the pandemic would affect the July 16-19 weekend celebration.

"We knew it was coming," said Catlin Benson, the new president of the Pow Wow Days Association that would be celebrating 59 years of operation this summer.

As the new president of the association, elected at the recent AGM held as pandemic protocols were starting to be put into place, Benson — along with an executive board made up of vice president Matthew Mouille, treasurer  Neil Timm and directors Brian Axenchuk and Tim Bean — says there are still hopes to move at least a portion of the celebration to a later date.

"We're still looking into having it at a later date. We don't just want to shut it down — but it all depends on public health and safety and what the government tells us," said Benson last Friday. 

If provincial officials decide that all events are cancelled throughout the year, Benson said the board is ready to host the 60th anniversary in 2021.

"We're still working on ideas and planning," said Benson, adding that plans to cancel events for longer periods of time will have to be addressed as the situation plays out. "If they cancel into 2021, we'll cross that bridge then."

No mudding

Pow Wow Days isn't' the only local big draw that will be taking at least a year off.  Organizers of the Plamondon Mud Bogs have also announced the event's cancellation. With hashtags of 'we'll be back' and 'effyoucorona' the message was posted onto the Canadian Mud Racing Organization social media site on Friday night. The CMRO — the sanctioning body behind recent Plamondon Mud Bog weekends — officially cancelled its 2020 racing season earlier in the week, following suit with several other racing associations across Canada. The CMRO's website is also not-responsive this week. The Plamondon Mud Bogs and annual slo-pitch tournament were planned for the July 3 weekend.

Plamondon's Amanda Richard is a former mud bog racer and now a member of the board that organizes the Plamondon event. She says the decision was a tough one to make — but with added mandates from the province on large gatherings, it is the right choice.

"It is one of the biggest events on the CMRO circuit and it's one of the best organized — but we are following the instructions given out," she told the POST Saturday afternoon.

Mud Bog organizers were planning on holding an video conference call this coming Tuesday to discuss their plans for the weekend — perhaps even reducing the big event to more of a drop-in, last-minute entry event, but when provincial officials announced a total ban on large gatherings, those plans went away too.

"It's out of our hands," she said, adding with a laugh that the cancellation may serve as a re-set for the event and organizers who have felt the effects of volunteeer burnout and economic challenges over the last few years. "We'll use this as a bit of a break."

Although organziers will use that break over the next few months, they are already planning for the 2021 edition of the Plamondon Mud Bogs.

"Unless we're still in a pandemic, July 9, 10 and 11 of next year we are going to have it for sure."


muddy events cancelledAll events — like mud racing — that draw more than 15 people have been cancelled for the summer due to COVID


Other planned events around the Lakeland, including the Glendon Derby and Mudbogs planned August 8, have also been cancelled due to the COVID-19 precautions on public gatherings. In a message to racing fans on Friday, Stacey Sandmeyer of the Glendon Agricultural Society said the board had just made the "sad decision" to cancel the long-running event.

Check for updates. 

Original article UPDATED at 3pm April 25 to include comments from Plamondon Mud Bog organizers

Rob McKinley

About the Author: Rob McKinley

Rob has been in the media, marketing and promotion business for 30 years, working in the public sector, as well as media outlets in major metropolitan markets, smaller rural communities and Indigenous-focused settings.
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