Chamber seeking ways to safely stage events

SAFFORD — Following up on a request from Safford Mayor Jason Kouts, Vance Bryce with the Graham County Chamber of Commerce said his agency is working on bringing events back to the Gila Valley.

“We’re trying to figure out how to have a Christmas with COVID, and how that all works,” Bryce said during a recent appearance on Voice of the Valley.

At the most recent Safford City Council meeting, Kouts asked staff to investigate how to bring events back to the community given the declining number of positive COVID-19 cases Graham County had experienced in September.

“I want to see these festivals happen if we can,” Kouts said.

A number of summer and fall events were cancelled as a result of the coronavirus, including the Nickel Picnic and Battle of the Bands in July, SalsaFest in September, Harvest Festival in October and the Hispanic Heritage Un Gran Fiesta Exito event in November. Meanwhile, the Graham County Fair was pared down to just exhibits this year.

“Every one of us who plans an event — or has ideas about planning events — whether it’s the Chamber, the Lions Club, the municipalities or here at the radio station, are pulling their hair out trying to make things work. (So have) patience with your neighbors, patience with your churches; this is the first time any of us have been through a pandemic,” Bryce said.

The Safford Downtown Association announced it is moving forward with plans for the Merry Main Street event Nov. 27 and the Holiday Light Parade on Dec. 5.

Bryce said a presentation to the Safford City Council on plans for the holiday season will take place at the council’s meeting at the end of October.