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No Beef Days

Solon’s annual celebration limited to socially distant events Buy your Beef Days Bundles starting July 1
Shelby Gunnells won the 2016 Beef Days Hay Bale Toss, but their will be no champion for 2020 after Solon’s Beef Days Committee announced it will cancel traditional 2020 events. (file photo)

SOLON– “Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we’ve made the difficult decision to cancel our traditional 2020 Solon Beef Days events,” the Facebook post said.
With that, Solon’s Beef Days Committee announced on June 16 what many suspected.
“This decision did not come easy, but after careful consideration and conversations with city officials and local health agencies we have decided that Beef Days could not go on like normal under the current social distancing guidelines and other restrictions set forth for our state,” the post continued.
The committee is making plans for some alternate activities, including a reverse parade if enough interest is shown, according to co-chair Denise Bruck.
“We kind of came to the realization that we couldn’t safely hold Beef Days a couple of weeks ago,” she said.
Planning for the annual summer celebration is year-round work for the roughly 30 members of the committee. About 20 people attend the regular meetings, she said.
Planning of the 2020 event was well underway when the brakes were applied in March and April.
Beef Days grew out of a 1971 celebration planned and put on by the Solon Optimist Club, Solon Fire Department, Solon American Legion and the Solon Jaycees to revitalize two old time celebrations from the 1940s.
The event’s name came from the presence of the Johnson County Cattlemen’s Association, whose members came and cooked steaks served at the event the first few years.
Over the years, it developed as one of the area’s best community celebrations, drawing 25,000 visitors for free live music, cold beer, a traditional town parade, a carnival and a host of other activities for all ages.
Beef Days also serves a principal fundraiser for many local non-profit groups, and the committee also disburses proceeds from the event in the form of donations to local projects.
The committee has an annual budget of giving ranging between $15,000-40,000, Bruck said, and to date contributions total over $500,000.
“It’s so important to the community, so many people have asked us about it,” she noted. “We were trying to come up with alternate ways people could celebrate that weekend with their families.”
Organizers plan to introduce the idea of a reverse parade on the Beef Days Facebook page to see if residents have an interest in creating floats or entries, Bruck said.
“We’ll take a survey to see how many people would actually be participating,” she said. “If we get three entries, well, we won’t do it. If we get 20 or 30, then I think it would be a fun event for especially young families with little kids, they still get to have that parade experience.”
The Solon Recreation and Nature Area parking lot was considered as a location, but there may be a possible conflict with state postseason baseball games, she explained.
Dubuque Street, between 5th Street and Main Street, is being considered as an alternate.
“That’s kind of the widest street where we can actually put the floats and safely have cars drive up the middle,” she said.
The committee is also announcing the availability of “Beef Days Bundles.”
The first of the alternate events features three different bundles to choose from featuring pork, beef or a combination of both, plus your choice of beer or pop.
“We encourage you to have a backyard Beef Days BBQ,” the committee said in a news release. “If it works out on the traditional weekend, that’s even better.”
Community members are asked to take photos of their Beef Days backyard BBQ using the hashtag #SolonBeefDays2020.
The Beef Days website, beefdays.com, goes live July 1 with order forms to purchase Beef Days Bundles. Supplies are limited.
“Thanks to everyone for your patience as the Beef Days Committee works out the details in alternative activities,” the release noted.
Bruck said the committee plans a few more announcements, as the date gets closer.
“We hope we can provide at least a little bit of Beef Days since we can’t all gather together in one space,” she observed.