Events canceled or altered by COVID considerations
Winter 2020-21 is already shaping up as a different season than the valley is used to.
Traditional events are being canceled or modified, while managers at Methow Trails, the Winthrop Rink and Loup Loup Ski Bowl are preparing to operate under COVID-compatible guidelines.
The usual calendar of noteworthy events for each organization is pretty much a blank or at the best uncertain slate for now, given the unpredictability of how the state’s coronavirus phased re-opening plan affects operations. Organizers remain hopeful that, later in the season, coronavirus restrictions will ease and some events can be restored.
The rink is scheduled to open on Saturday (Nov. 7) after the installation of a new vinyl liner on the ice surface. Nordic skiing will depend on the snow, as will the anticipated late-December opening at Loup Loup.
Next up is Thanksgiving weekend, when the annual Christmas at the End of the Road celebration draws crowds to Winthrop for shopping, wagon rides, visits with Santa and of course the Saturday night fireworks show exploding over downtown.
This year, the fireworks show will go on and stores will be open, but all other events are canceled.
Instead of bundling up and gathering in the street, fireworks fans will be asked to instead view the show from parked cars, either downtown or at town parking lots at the Winthrop Barn and the Town Trailhead. The fireworks display will also be live-streamed on the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.
The visitor information center and public bathrooms will be open for the weekend.
Mistletoe Madness, revisited
The following weekend, Mistletoe Madness — the annual shopping and socializing event in Twisp — will also have a different look. On Friday and Saturday (Dec. 4 and 5), Glover Street will be closed between Second and Third Avenues for a holiday market, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
In a sense, the two-day event will stand in for the annual holiday bazaars hosted by the Methow Valley Community as a showcase for local merchants’ goods. Because of COVID concerns, it would be difficult to stage the bazaars, which are typically packed with vendors and shoppers.
There will be socially distanced booths, volunteers to help shoppers move through the vendor area, fire pits, warming stations and food from local restaurants. Methow Arts and Confluence Gallery will have “pop-up” retail sites as well.
“Although we will miss having the Christmas bazaar in the gym we do want to do our part in keeping people safe,” Community Center Executive Director Kirsten Ostlie said in an email.
Other events such as wagon rides and caroling and won’t be part of this year’s Mistletoe Madness activities.
During Mistletoe Madness, studios at TwispWorks will be open, and the new Old Schoolhouse Brewery Taproom is expected to be operating. Valley Goods, a retail outlet for locally made items, is scheduled to open Nov. 11. A new “pop-up” restaurant operated by Methow Eats will also be open during Mistletoe Madness.
At last week’s Twisp Town Council meeting, the council agreed to provide about $1,300 to pay for portable toilets that will set up during Mistletoe Madness, and for music to be provided by radio station KTRT.
Jamie Petitto, marketing director for the Twisp Chamber of Commerce — speaking on behalf of a Mistletoe Madness organizing committee including representatives from TwispWorks, Methow Arts, Confluence Gallery and the Methow Valley Community Center — had asked the town to open up the former public restrooms in The Merc Playhouse building during the two-day event. Alternately, Petitto asked that the town rent portable toilets. She said restrooms will be open at TwispWorks and the Community Center during the event.
The downtown public restrooms in The Merc Playhouse building, with an entrance on Second Avenue, were closed in early 2019 due to concerns about safety and cleanliness. The facilities were cleaned and maintained by the town under a contract with The Merc. The street entrance to the bathrooms had been kept open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and was locked and unlocked with an automatic timer.
Mayor Soo Ing-Moody said last week that The Merc bathrooms will not be available because of a legal dispute that recently arose when an attorney for the theater sent a letter alleging that the town had defaulted on its contract — “which we know is not true,” Ing-Moody said. “They have not been abandoned.”
Petitto also asked for the town to help with signage, and to pay KRTR to broadcast seasonal music which would be played simultaneously over speakers in downtown businesses, so shoppers would hear the same music wherever they went.
The council agreed to pay for portable toilets and the KTRT music with funds from the town’s share of lodging taxes. Petitto said the organizers would use existing signage.