Trappers Rendezvous canceled

Chad Frey
The 2021 edition of Trappers Rendezvous at West Park has been canceled due to increasing numbers of COVID-19.

Trappers Rendezvous, one of the largest events in Harvey County and the largest event hosted by Harvey County West Park each year, will not happen in 2021.

For more than 30 years thousands of boy scouts from multiple states have spent a weekend in January camping, trading and participating in scout activities at West Park.

The 2021 event was scheduled for Jan. 15-17.

But growing COVID-19 case numbers and area hospitals reaching capacity for treatment of the disease led the county commission to put a hold on the event.

“I hate to cancel it, but I think we have to in our county becasue we are kind of out of control a little bit with community spread,” Westfall said. “With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up I think we will see numbers spike some more. ... I know the governor and the legislature are talking about more restrictions. They are working together that this could be a state decision, but for now, it is a Harvey County decision. I can not support it. I think it is too dangerous.”

On Tuesday as the commission was talking about Trappers Rendezvous, there were 297 active COVID-19 cases in Harvey County. The two week positive testing percentage stood at more than 19 percent and the Health Department reported 218 new cases in seven days.

Trappers Rendezvous has grown from a couple of Scout troops camping at West Park to upwards of several thousand scouts from multiple states over the course of 44 years.

Tuesday was the third time the commission had discussed the future of the event within the last month.

“With the numbers we are seeing, I just do not think we need a superspreader event,” said commissioner Randy Hague.

“We are seeing the same numbers you are. It is really unfortunate, but we understand your position,“ said event organizer John Ferguson. “ We want to keep our scouts and families safe as well. ... We appreciate you taking the time to consider it, and we are looking forward to next year.”

Organizers of the event made a last-ditch effort to move the event forward at West Park — changing the day to a one-day event, eliminating camping and not inviting out-of-state troops to the day.

Ultimately, those moves were not enough to save the event after the commission — which also serves as the county board of health — approved moving back to Phase III of the county COVID_19 reopening plan last week. That led to a limiting of the size of groups to 45.

In previous meetings, Commissioners questioned how social distancing guidelines can be observed at the event — and what message the commission would be sending if the announcement of the event moving forward while restrictions on other crowds remain in place.

The Quivira Scout Council has created safety protocols for events. All attendants must have a signed waiver form from a guardian. If the member of a Scout unit begins to show symptoms of COVID-19, the unit will be sent home.

The Scouts have a crew called a 911 crew — a mix of licensed EMTs and Scouts training to be EMTs — that will visit each Scout unit during check-in to check temperatures and perform COVID-19 screening.

Tuesday the commission voted on a motion by Hague to cancel the event and have park staff send a letter to the scout council.. The vote was 2-0. Ron Krehbiel was absent.

In other business the commission:

• Received an update on the Wheatstate Fire. The fire is out, though the grassland fire index is in high and extreme categories this week. Patrols have been created to monitor the area between Burnac and Wheatstate Roads.

• Received an update on COVID-19 from the health department.

• Approved sending a request for bids for the replacement of a rescue boat for the parks department.

• Reviewed estimates for the construction of a bait shot at East Park. Approved moving forward with a building purchase from Sturdi-Built at a cost of $38,671. Construction may start in about six months.

• Reviewed a general public transportation grant application.

• Approved the installation of sneeze guards in district court using CARES act funds.