Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce officials on July 14 announced the cancellation of the LakeFest drag boat races scheduled for July 25-26 in Marble Falls. Purchased tickets will be refunded. File photo
“We are saddened to have had to cancel LakeFest 2020 as it is an event the community members and visitors look forward to year after year,” said Jarrod Metzgar, the chamber’s executive director, in a July 14 media release. “However, public safety and protecting our community remains our top priority. It is our hope that although we must remain apart for now, we will be able to come back better than ever for LakeFest 2021.”
The 2020 event scheduled for July 25-26 at Lakeside Park in Marble Falls was to mark the return of the drag boat races after a two-year hiatus.
The cancellation was a “united decision” by LakeFest organizers and local health and government officials.
Marble Falls Mayor John Packer pointed out that the event draws visitors from outside of the area, which would increase the risk for spreading the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
“LakeFest has been an event for residents and visitors alike to enjoy the boat race followed by enjoying the restaurants and amenities Marble Falls has to offer,” the mayor said. “However, this decision was made with the best interest of our community, volunteers, participants and spectators to protect them from potential exposure to COVID-19.”
Burnet County Local Health Authority Dr. Juliette Madrigal concurred.
“While it appears that Burnet County is at a manageable stage regarding COVID-19, that will likely not be the case if there is a large gathering like LakeFest,” she said.
According to the latest state report released July 13, Burnet County has 247 total COVID-19 cases with 60 listed as “recovered.” The state also reported four deaths in Burnet County.
“The last thing we want is to put Burnet County residents and the surrounding communities at a greater risk of spreading the virus,” Madrigal said.
The Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit organization that relies on membership fees and large events such as LakeFest to raise money. It is not part of the city of Marble Falls. Its mission is to support local businesses through education, networking, and tourism.
“Each year, we look forward to bringing LakeFest to Marble Falls, Texas, but protecting participants, volunteers, and the community is paramount,” said David Carroll, the Southern Drag Boat Association series director. The chamber and the SDBA had teamed up this year to bring the event back to Lake Marble Falls.
While this means the SDBA and chamber will have to wait another year for the event’s return, Carroll said canceling it was the right decision.
“While canceling LakeFest 2020 is disappointing for fans and participants, we know that our love of the sport doesn’t compare to the importance of protecting the health and safety of everyone involved,” he added.