The McCall Area Chamber previously announced the annual McCall Winter Carnival would happen with modifications, no big crowd events, and more outdoor recreation. A few weeks later, the chamber changed course, and cancelled the carnival.
Before making the decision, it surveyed residents and business owners.
The survey sent out by the chamber received 980 responses. Results showed that 52.98% of business owners said they preferred to see the carnival canceled. 64.43% of residents also said they would like to see the carnival canceled.
COVID-19 was the primary reason people voted to cancel the carnival.
After reviewing survey responses, the chamber moved to cancel the winter carnival.
“Our hope is that we can still provide some of the experiences you would find at Winter Carnival, just spread out over several months rather than concentrated in 10 days,” the spokesperson for the chamber, McKenzie Kraemer said. “Our priority has always been the health and safety of our residents and visitors. We could not in good conscience promote an event that would go against current restrictions on public gatherings and COVID-19 safety measures.”
Visitors and the economy
The event typically brings in around 60,000 visitors, and the town sees a surge in tourism revenue.
Despite this, West Central Mountains Economic Development Council Executive Director Andrew Mentzer does not foresee this having an outstanding effect on the economy.
“The economic impacts are difficult to articulate, as 2020 has seen an enormous surge in year-round travel to our region due to COVID,” Mentzer said. “I suspect the economic impact of Winter Carnival will be spread out throughout the whole winter season instead of occurring over the course of two weeks. So the net effect might be a wash, or possibly even reflect some economic gains. We don’t have those exact tea leaves, but if this past summer is any indication I suspect we’ll see another robust visitor winter season.”
Mentzer believes this because winter in McCall normally brings in many visitors for ski season and other snow activities.
Throughout the summer McCall remained busy. Local option tax receipts showed that tourists and residents spent more money in McCall this summer than last. And COVID-19, reinvented vacationing. More and more people seem to spend time in small mountain towns like McCall that are a short drive from where they live.
‘The right thing to do’
David Carey, the general manager of Hotel McCall, Rupert’s and Jug Mountain Ranch was among the 52.98% of business owners in favor of cancelling the carnival.
“It is the right thing to do,” he said. “They have not closed McCall. Folks can come up and enjoy winter in McCall. We just do not need to encourage large gatherings. The McCall Area Chamber is not the only group to cancel large gatherings. Just like the fireworks were canceled across the US for the 4th, we need to help protect our community and or medical resources.”