The 45th annual North American Vasa Festival of Races has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. After exploring other options, the Vasa board unanimously voted on Tuesday night to call off the event.
“We looked at putting a cap on the number of participants, we looked at doing a virtual event, we looked at spreading it out through the course of even a week or two to lower the amount of people gathering at once,” said Board Member Brian Beauchamp. “Ultimately it was just decided that we weren’t going to be able to pull that off.”
The cross-country ski and winter sporting event was set for February 13-14 in Traverse City. It normally draws hundreds of skiers from all over the midwest and the world.
“This has been a community tradition for decades now,” Beauchamp said. “I know that this news will be difficult to hear for some and I can say that it was a difficult decision for the board to make.”
One of the factors that weighed heavily in the board’s decision was the COVID-19 guidance from local health officials.
“Our partners at Munson Healthcare System have put the call out asking event leaders and participants to help out, follow COVID protocols ― be a community partner and leader in helping reduce the strain on their system,” said Beauchamp.
“We’ve just been following their reality and encouragement across the board in the community. So we just felt like it was in our best interest ― in the role that we’re in ― to make a decision that supports them.”
Beauchamp says if you’re already registered for the event, you can defer your entry fee or donate it.
Besides cross-country skiing, the Vasa Festival of Races also includes snowshoe and fat tire bike races.
The 2022 event is already set for February 12-13th.