COVID wipes out burnout
by Tom Coombe
Add an October event to those that have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Jake Forsman Memorial Car Show and Burnout Competition will not occur as scheduled this fall, organizers announced two weeks ago.
It joins a growing list of local events, from the Blueberry/Art and Harvest Moon festivals to the Ely Marathon, that have been cancelled for 2020 because of the pandemic and various state restrictions on public gatherings.
The decision to cancel was not an easy one, according to city council member and organizer Al Forsman, but one that he felt was necessary.
He said it was in part “because of a combination of mandates getting more strict (and) the government response, the Walz Administration response to the stampede in Effie.”
Attorney General Keith Ellison is taking action against organizers of a late-July rodeo event that drew thousands of “protestors” and Forsman said he found the state’s response “concerning.”
The car show and burnout event take place in front of City Hall on Chapman Street, and Forsman said that too was a factor.
“We hold this event on public property, and I know there are very strong feelings on both sides of the issue,” he said. “And I don’t want to put anyone in a situation of choosing between the city and the event. Those factors combined to all say this isn’t going to happen.”
Forsman said the Ely Chamber’s recent decision to cancel the Harvest Moon Festival, slated for September also played a role.
“As much as I would love
to be able to do it, I think the public perception of it, even if it’s a minority of fans who feel we are wrong to continue, I think we have to respect that,” said Forsman.
Forsman started the event in memory of his son Jake and it quickly took off, attracting big crowds in its 2017 debut and raising funds for a Jake Forsman Memorial Scholarship, geared for students who are pursuing careers in trade-related professions.
This year, because of the car show, competition and associated events, seven $2,000 scholarships were awarded.
While the event is on hold, the efforts to raise funds for the scholarships continue.
“I had two people who combined to say they committed to sponsor one, $2,000 scholarship for next year,” said Forsman.
Another person contributed another $200 and contributions, which are tax-deductible, can be sent to the Jake Forsman Memorial Scholarship, care of Al Forsman, 641 East Camp Street, Ely, Minn., 55731.
“We are grateful for the community support of our mission,” said Forsman. “Because of them, we are able to encourage and support our youth to seek education in trades that our essential to us all.”
Numerous other events across northern Minnesota have also been cancelled because of the pandemic and restrictions on large gatherings, including Babbitt’s Peter Mitchell Days Virginia’s Land of the Loon Festival, the Embarrass Fair and the St. Louis County Fair.