Tuolumne Lumber Jubilee Changing Name To Comply With COVID-19 Restrictions
Tuolumne, CA – A popular kickoff event to the summer in Tuolumne is changing its name due to state coronavirus restrictions.
Thursday on social media, organizers of the “Tuolumne Lumber Jubilee” announced that “In order to stay in compliance with state and local orders, this year’s event will be considered a religious/protest.” To fit that description the event’s title has been switched to “Tuolumne Lumber Protest.” The decision to make that change came after receiving a call from Tuolumne County Health Department spokesperson Michelle Jachetta earlier that day.
Event Chairman Aaron Rasmussen recounts, “She informed me that she heard that we were still having our jubilee and that it didn’t qualify for us to do it because it’s considered a mass gathering and the only exceptions are religious services and protests.” To which he says he replied, “We do have a church service and if we have to make the adjustment to consider it a protest, I will.”
Asked how just changing the wording makes the event a protest, Rasmussen asserts, “The protest is the fact that we’re having it. We can’t stay in this constant fear. We can’t stay in this constant state of closure. It’s not healthy for the community. It’s not healthy for our economy. So, in itself it’s a protest to say as a community we’re still having this.”
Whether that argument holds with local health officials is unclear. Clarke Broadcasting contacted Tuolumne County Health Officer Dr. Liza Ortiz who confirmed that her office had spoken to Rasmussen and had relayed the state coronavirus rules. While declining to be interviewed, when asked whether her office would take any action to shut down the event next weekend, Dr. Ortiz responded, “Due to the rapid and continuing changes to the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, at this time I cannot comment further.”
Receiving encouragement from event board members and the public, Rasmussen believes that “as a community, this is going to be a healthy thing for the community to continue forward.” Noting that it sounds “ridiculous” that the name has to be changed from Tuolumne Lumber Jubilee to protest, he suggests, “It’s also ridiculous when you look around our community and what’s happening. There are thousands of people at Walmart and Lowes and hundreds of people at protests…We really feel, as Americans, that we have the right to peacefully assemble, there’s no exceptions to that. We really feel strongly that we are moving forward in a positive way.”
Rasmussen advocates that one of the positives is the economic impact on the area, which he says is “huge” and desperately needed at this time. However, he acknowledges, “It’s hard to say what the estimated draw is going to be, obviously due to COVID. It depends on whether people believe it is safe to come out or not.” Admitting that it will probably not be “nearly as good as it usually is.”
Regarding whether masks will be required, or provided, to attendees, Rasmussen contends, “We’re not going to be the police.” Pointing out that coronavirus information he received from the county’s health department is posted online, including this week’s face-covering order from the state, he adds, “We simply ask people to be responsible. If someone feels sick, they should stay home.”
In the end, Rasmussen insists that nobody is being forced to attend the event. He maintains, “I don’t want this to be contentious. I don’t want there to be any problems. I don’t want there to be any issues and God forbid anybody gets sick, but that’s part of life.”
Due to the pandemic, the event at the Tuolumne Veteran’s Memorial Hall Park in Tuolumne has been scaled back from two days to one, Sunday, June 28th. The church service starts at 9 a.m. on the east lawn. Rasmussen relays that the logging “protest” is on the west lawn and will run from 11 a.m. until around 6 p.m.
Rasmussen had this response when asked what will happen if county health officials try to shut down the event, “They can come an arrest me and lock me up, that’s fine. I’ll be the guy to answer for that on that day.”