Buffalo Bill will have to keep his hat on the shelf another year; organizers say COVID-19 concerns have led them to cancel his namesake celebration again.
Buffalo Bill Days Inc. officially decided to pull the plug on the beloved summer festival, typically held at the end of July, for the second straight year last month, citing the unlikelihood of being able to safely bring together the large crowd the festival attracts this summer.
“We attract between 30,000 and 40,000 people over the weekend and we could think of no way to control the crowd size, without it costing a bunch of money,” said Joy Bauman, the president of Buffalo Bill Days, Inc.
“And I know things are opening up but we just weren’t sure they would be opened up that much,” she added.
But while Bauman said she and her team are “all bummed,” she said she expects the festival to be back in all its glory in 2022 with the two cancellations having no significant impact on the event’s future.
“We have our seed money or whatever you want to call it that we accumulate, and we’ve saved it for the last two years,” she said. “So, we’ll start as we probably normally would next year.”
But even as there will be no mutton bustin’ or parade this year, Bauman said some of the spirit of Buffalo Bill Days will be captured through other smaller festivities.
Already in the works are plans to create a virtual marketplace on the Buffalo Bills Day website where some of the many vendors who typically set up shop during the festival can ply their wares online.
“We have many longterm vendors of arts, crafts, homemade products and festival food who love participating in Buffalo Bill Days year after year,” wrote Buffalo Bill Days vendor chair Katherine Leith Porter in an email to the Golden Transcript. “Many of them don’t have a brick-and-mortar business and depend on fairs and festivals for their livelihoods so this year we are offering them the opportunity to use the BBD web page for some potential on-line referrals for sales.”
The marketplace is not yet live but more information will be posted on buffalobilldays.com as the summer approaches. Organizers are also planning to make the annual Buffalo Bills Day golf tournament at Applewood Golf Course happen.
“There are also groups talking about doing some small little things, like some education activities and things like that,” said Bauman. “So as that happens we’ll post on the website.”
While the cancellation of Buffalo Bills Days means Golden will once again be without its biggest annual get together, the status of the rest of the city’s typically-packed summer calendar is still up in the air.
Golden Deputy City Manager Carly Lorentz told the Transcript that the city is issuing permits for events with the understanding that all events must follow whatever public health guidelines are in place at the time of the event. In addition, each event organizer must submit a COVID-19 safety plan.
At this point, the city has not heard from all event organizers on their plans, Lorentz said.
“I think everyone is taking a cautious, wait-and-see approach,” she said. “One of the challenges for event organizers is that they need months to plan with certainty for sponsorships and deposits, etc. so they have to cancel due to the uncertainty.”
Still, Lorentz said the city hopes to have events this year and has not canceled any events itself.
“We are cautiously optimistic and encourage the community to keep doing their part to stay healthy,” she said. “We are excited to spend time together as a community again soon.”