June 30, 2020


By Neal A. Shipman

Farmer Editor

As hard as it is to accept the fact that there will be no Ribfest this summer, the Watford City Area Chamber of Commerce really did make the right call in cancelling this year’s event due to COVID-19.
It could be argued that the Chamber could have followed in the steps of Williston, Dickinson and other communities that are still trying to hold summer events. But the reality is that Watford City’s Ribfest has grown to be an event that draws tens of thousands of participants to Main Street. And with the number of positive cases in McKenzie County, as well as elsewhere in North Dakota and the surrounding states increasing, one has to wonder if the benefits of having Ribfest are worth the risk.
Granted this year’s Ribfest’s crowd was going to be smaller than the estimated 10,000 people who attended last year’s event. But even with fewer teams cooking ribs and a fewer number of vendors planning to attend because of COVID-19 concerns, there is still a lot of risk of having a breakout of the virus even if only four to five thousand people showed up and packed Main Street.
So far, North Dakotans have been smart when it comes to limiting the exposure of COVID-19 to others. We need to be proud of that fact in spite of watching all of our summer and fall events cancelled.
No one likes the fact that virtually every county fair across the state has been cancelled or that the State Fair and Hostfest have been cancelled in Minot. And no one likes the fact that the majority of their summer vacation plans have been curtailed because of the virus.
The reality is that America has not beaten COVID-19. Will we in Watford City, McKenzie County and North Dakota see the resurgence in the number of cases that is now being seen in Florida, Arizona and California?
Let’s hope not. But in order to keep our number of coronavirus cases to a minimum, we are going to have to make the hard choice of what events can still be held and which can not.
Can we live without Ribfest this year just as we had to give up the McKenzie County Fair and Homefest? In the interest of public health, the decision is easy to make. Yes we can.