The 32nd annual Northwest Fly Tier and Fly Fishing Expo scheduled for this weekend at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center has been cancelled due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, chairwoman Sherry Steele said Monday afternoon.
The event is sponsored by the Oregon Council of Fly Fishers International.
“This was a major decision, since this is our only fundraiser of the year,” Steele said. “But we have more than 2,500 people per day who come to this and we don’t want to take any chances. It’s a big financial hit for us, but it’s the right thing to do.”
Steele said the expo has grown ever year. In 2007, there were about two dozen vendors. This year’s event was slated to have more than 60 vendors.
Steele said the cancellation could cost the non-profit group more than $10,000.
“We are crunching numbers trying to determine if we will even be able to put on an event in 2021,” Steele said.
Steele said Comfort Suites in Albany will not charge the group $16,000 for a block of rooms that had been reserved for the event.
“They have been wonderful,” Steele said.
Steele said the Linn County Fair & Expo Center is also working with them on their deposit for next year’s event.
“They are going to help us out if we can get something scheduled for 2021,” Steele said. “We’ve held the event there since 2007 and it has worked out very well.”
Steele said the cancellation was a major blow to club members.
“I’ve had people calling all day and some of them have been in tears,” Steele said. “It takes 200 volunteers to set it up every year. I make about 500 name badges.”
Steele added, “We’ve had this event for 31 years and it has taken a worldwide meltdown of a virus to shut us down. But we are here for the long haul and we hope to be back. Our conservation and education program is important, that’s what we do. We love our people, our sport and our environment.”
As of Monday, there have been 24 coronavirus-related deaths in the United States and more than 3,800 worldwide.
Gov. Kate Brown has declared a state of emergency.
To learn more, visit https://nwexpo.com/wp/.
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