Popular event’s status unclear: Chuck wagon races are a Carroll County tradition
By Scott Loftis
The Rock Bottom Chuck Wagon Races in Green Forest have become a popular springtime tradition over the past 13 years.
But with Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s declaration of a statewide public health emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s unclear how the 2020 event will be affected.
As recently as Saturday, May 9, a Facebook page for the event indicated it will be held from Wednesday, May 20, through Sunday, May 24. A website for the event — rockbottomchuckwagonraces.com — lists the same dates and includes a detailed schedule.
But Carroll County Judge Sam Barr said Monday that he understood the state planned to intervene, and one of the event’s organizers declined to comment.
“The only thing I know is that I heard the governor said it wasn’t going to happen, that he would shut it down,” Barr said. “I had a friend out of Little Rock call me and ask me if I could get them to put it off.”
Hutchinson’s office did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Danyelle McNeill, public information officer for the Arkansas Department of Health’s Office of Health Communications, said the health department had no comment.
“We don’t have anything that we can share at this time,” McNeill said.
Mike Fowler, whose family puts on the annual event, said Monday that he was “not really at this time wanting to make any comment.”
Carroll County Sheriff Jim Ross said he had visited Fowler’s property and that Fowler had been in discussions with Terry Paul, the health department’s director of environmental health.
“I’m hoping that they’ve worked something out,” Ross said, adding that the sheriff’s office will do “everything we’re supposed to do” if the state orders the event to be canceled.
Hutchinson announced directives for large outdoor venues on Monday, May 5. Those directives included maintaining a 12-foot distance between the performers and audience, limiting the total number of performers to 50, limiting the audience to 50 people, maintaining a 6-foot distance in seating except for family, keeping every other row unoccupied, having lines marked and monitored for distancing, and requiring face coverings for anyone over 10 years old (with the exception of performers, if there is 12 feet of distance from all others), with signs advising no entry for individuals with any symptoms or contact with positive patients. There should be hand sanitizer stations at all entrances and exits. Refreshments are allowed, but no self-service, and the facility including seating should be cleaned and sanitized before and after each use.
On Monday, May 12, Hutchinson said during a news conference in El Dorado that the state had a total of 4,043 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 94 deaths.