Chamber President Candice Mortenson made the announcement at the regular meeting of the Board of County Commissioners Feb. 2.
However, during the public comment period at the end of the meeting, Maylene Orr of Pioche asked Commissioners to reconsider accepting the request from the Chamber of Commerce to cancel the Labor Day activities because she did not feel sufficient notice had been given to members of the public of what the Chamber was planning to do.
She asked Commissioners to re-agendize the item for the Feb. 16 meeting, and hopefully other interested people will come forward. “I didn’t know about it until about a week ago it was going to be on this agenda,” she said. “A lot of other people did not know this was on the agenda. Put it in the paper to let more people know so it is understood more what is going to happen, and to have more input.”
Commissioner Paul Donohue said he asked to have the item put on the Feb. 16 agenda, “because Mrs. Orr said she had some options she wanted to discuss.”
In addition, it may be that by that time people will have formed a committee or committees to make plans for the celebration, and may want to inform Commissioners of what they have done, also asking not to have the event cancelled.
However, it should also be noted that the Chamber had run a help wanted ad in the Lincoln County Record for several weeks without any response, and the Record also ran a story in the Jan. 16 issue informing people of the fact that the celebration would be cancelled if no volunteers came forward.
The articled stated, “At their meeting on Jan. 13, the members of the Pioche Chamber of Commerce voted to immediately start a search for a dedicated individual or organization to act as Chairman of the Labor Day Committee in a volunteer position to carry on with this traditional event.” The request asked for replies to be received by Jan. 31.
In her comments to the Commissioners, Mortenson said 2015 would mark the 110th annual observance of Pioche Labor Day, but by the deadline they had set of Jan. 31, no entity or individual had come forward saying they wanted to be the chairman of the Labor Day Committee this year.
In explaining how the Chamber came to the decision, she said over the pastfew years there has been “a lessening interest in the community to help out with Labor Day.”
There are only eight active members in the Chamber Mortenson noted, “and all us are of an average age of 68.”
Letters and notices had been sent out or posted around town to gain support, she said, “but by our Jan. 31 deadline, we had received no response.” She stated, “There’s nobody left to be the chairman, so we have no choice but to cancel it. You have to get going with it by Feb. 15 with the organization and permitting. It’s an involved process. It’s not something you can pick up at the drop of a hat and run off and start it, and there’s nobody who seems to want to. In the last two years here in Pioche, because of the economy, people have given up 50 post office boxes. Figure out how many people were attached to each one of those boxes, and they’re not here anymore.”
Usually about 40 events happen during Labor Day, but Mortenson said, “those people have slowly fallen off, too, and we’re having trouble replacing them.”
She views a change in attitude toward the event, as well as the national economic crash of the past eight years as a large part of the decline. “People didn’t have the money to come up here from far away to have fun, and it became lesser and lesser numbers. The local groups running the booths to make money for their organizations have not been making the money they used to, and attendance numbers are much less over the past five years now.”
In addition, she said the idea of the younger people, age 35-50, coming out and taking over these events when the older people bow out, is not happening anymore. “The older ones of us are all at a last gasp,” she said. “There’s just nobody left to run the big show, or spend the money to build the floats. We’ve been trying for three years to get more people to help, but I think times have changed and people aren’t interested in this kind of entertainment.”
One of the main draws for Labor Day Mortenson said, has been the softball tournament. “But there is no interest anymore by the younger players to have a Pioche team and the rest of us are all too old or too broken.”
She said, “Doing something like a county fair, or state fair is somewhat easier because there are so many people involved, but a small community fair, if people are not ready to step up and assume the big role, then you don’t have much of an option to be cancel it.”
The Pioche Chamber does continue to promote the Thompson Opera House and holding events there from time to time, and also plans to refocus efforts, time, and money on making the Lincoln County Fair in August a bigger and better event. She said, “We want to get the word out now to the vendors who might have come to Labor Day to plan to go to the County Fair instead. People are likely to only come to one, either the Fair or Labor Day, but not both.”