CASA GRANDE — Coronavirus won’t stop Casa Grande’s first fiddle festival or a set of other activities set for this weekend in Pinal County.
Thousands of people are expected to visit Peart Park this weekend as the Casa Grande Concert in the Park, Grande Fiddle Championship and Art Explosion get underway.
“We have people coming from California, Nevada and Boston and no one has expressed any concerns,” said Tiffany Dietrich, organizer of the Grande Fiddle event, which begins at 9 a.m. Saturday in Peart Park. “We’re expecting more than 100 people to compete.”
The Friday night concert in the park will also continue as planned, said Latonya S. Jordan-Smith, public information officer for the city of Casa Grande.
“The city has no plans to cancel the concert over the virus. Weather is currently our main concern,” she said Tuesday afternoon. “The performers have not expressed concerns.”
Throughout the weekend, hand-sanitizing and hand-washing stations will be available.
“We encourage concert-goers to wash their hands frequently, avoid touching their face and carry hand sanitizer,” Jordan-Smith said.
Those who are ill should remain home and rest rather than attend the concert.
“They can join us at the next concert on April 17,” she said. “For all others, we encourage them to come out and enjoy the weekend’s festivities.”
An estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people attend the annual Art Explosion each year, which will also take place this weekend in Peart Park. The event opens with a preview event on Friday and artists from around the region displaying and selling their work on Saturday and Sunday.
Casa Grande Main Street Director Holly Rakoci said about 18 artists are scheduled to be at the event this year.
“We are still open to some last-minute artists who wish to have a booth,” she said. “We, along with the city, have no plans to cancel the concert or the festival over the virus.”
With the Pinal County Fair set to open Wednesday, Karen Searle, director of the Pinal Fairgrounds and Event Center, said visiting vendors and entertainers were still scheduled to arrive.
“As of this morning, we have had no cancellations,” she said Tuesday morning.
While the fairgrounds has always provided hand-sanitizing and -washing stations, Searle said that more will be added.
Amid calls for the cancellation of major events across the United States, Country Thunder Arizona is currently preparing to go on as usual. Gerry Krochak, director of marketing and media relations for Country Thunder, said the Florence event “is on” for its April 16-19 dates.
Last year, the festival near Florence reported more than 140,000 in attendance over four days, meaning about a 35,000-person average each day. It also offers camping, which thousands take advantage of each year in close confines.
This year’s lineup includes Eric Church, Kane Brown, Luke Combs and Dustin Lynch.
Jeff Siegel, producer for the Arizona Renaissance Festival being held near Gold Canyon off of U.S. Highway 60 plans to continue operating.
"While the Renaissance Festival is an often an escape from daily cares, when considering the current conditions of heightened concern for public health, we encourage festival attendees to use good judgement when determining whether to attend," he said in a statement.
"We pay attention and listen to the CDC and all the information that comes from the public health department. They will let us know about conditions for us in Arizona and how we can be appropriately responsive. We rely on the guidance of the experts," Siegel said.
Concerns for the coronavirus prompted Congressman Tom O’Halleran to cancel two scheduled town hall events in Flagstaff and Oro Valley Tuesday.
At Caliche Senior Living, the Adult Day Club is operating as usual but concerns of the viral illness prompted some community events, including an open house set for March 21, to be canceled. Some resident excursions, including casino trips, have also been canceled.
Caliche residents are being encouraged to stay in touch with family through FaceTime, phone calls and other forms of communication, said Vincent Jacobi, executive director of Caliche Senior Living.
“Active daily life continues here at Caliche Senior Living, but we are temporarily limiting community visitors to only those entering for essential health-related matters,” Jacobi said. “The health and safety of our residents and associates are our top priorities. We are committed to taking the highest precautions to protect the people in our care and to keeping their loved ones informed.”
The Pinal County Public Health Department has created a special web page to help area residents better understand the coronavirus and its impact on the area, including a real-time map of cases. The site is on the Pinal County website, www.pinalcountyaz.gov.
Staff writer Joey Chenoweth contributed to this article.