One year after Blair's unofficial start to summer was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Gateway to the West Days is back.
The annual celebration kicks off Thursday and runs through June 13. This year's theme is “The Roaring '20s.” Many of the favorite events, including the carnival, food fest, concerts, car show, water fights, the parade and the street dance, have returned.
Some haven't and that's OK.
Community members expressed their disappointment after the celebration was canceled in 2020.
“It was a decision that we had to make early, and at the beginning of March and April last year everything was shut down,” said Jordan Rishel, executive director of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce. “It felt like the right call that we had to make at that time.”
But after a year of disappointments, which saw so many events canceled, the return of Gateway to the West Days is good sign. It's a return to normalcy.
Gateway organizers are doing their part to keep the celebration safe for those who attend, placing hand sanitizer stations throughout the carnival and social distancing where it's possible.
“We're trying to do it safely and responsibly,” Rishel told the Enterprise.
Gateway to the West Days has been a tradition in Blair for decades. Not having this celebration last year should teach us to appreciate what we have and acknowledge the work and preparation done by volunteers before the fun is had.
Let's celebrate the return of Gateway to the West Days and encourage all to attend, but do so safely.