Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce cancels Rabbit Fest, annual Jackrabbit run for 2020
By LYNETTE SOWELL
A community tradition which was set to celebrate 40 years in 2020 will have to wait until next year.
The Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Bureau announced to sponsors and vendors on Tuesday that it had decided to cancel Rabbit Fest, which has been held annually in Copperas Cove since 1981.
“The Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau is experiencing a range of challenges associated with COVID-19, from modified office operations to time constraints all within our rapidly changing health environment. Based on this latest information from the State of Texas and the City of Copperas Cove public health officials, we deeply regret to announce that we are canceling our widely attended tourism events scheduled for the month of May 2020,” chamber president Alicia Menard stated in an email.
Menard referred to Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order GA-14, which asked all Texans to stay home except for essential business and activities, and to the city’s declaration of disaster which mirrors the governor's executive order.
In addition to Rabbit Fest, which was set for May 14-17, the chamber also canceled the annual Jackrabbit Run 10K/5K, scheduled for May 9.
“We continue to closely evaluate information as we receive it and will share with you moving forward. Please visit our website www.copperascove.com and check our events page for the latest updates https://business.copperascove.com/events/catgid/6,” Menard added. “In lieu of these events, we look forward to engaging with you on social media and continuing to promote the City of Copperas Cove through other initiatives and programs.”
The chamber’s office lobby is currently closed to the public until further notice, with chamber staff still operating on reduced office hours and having integrated working remotely.
Menard said the chamber is processing refunds to all vendors and participants that have paid fees to the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau for the Jackrabbit Run and Rabbit Fest, and refunds should be received within 60 – 90 days. Vendors and/or participants may choose to roll their payment to another 2020 event, or apply it to the event in 2021.
The next chamber event is the annual Summer Run to Fun, set for June.
The annual Rabbit Fest is yet another major citywide event to be canceled. The Five Hills Art Guild, which had been preparing for its 5th annual Five Hills Art Festival, Art Fest at the Gap, canceled their event, which had been scheduled for April 25-26.
Both the chamber and art guild had requested hotel occupancy tax (HOT) funding to support their events, with the Copperas Cove city council having allocated $16,000 to the Five Hills Art Guild for the art festival, with those funds to be spent on marketing and advertising, entertainment, and other costs associated with the festival.
The city council had also allocated HOT funds for Rabbit Fest in the amount of $18,375 for the annual festival, help fund advertising, marketing, and entertainment for the festival. The council had allocated $1,417 to the chamber for expenses associated with the Jackrabbit Run.
At this point, it’s not certain what will happen to the unspent HOT funds previously allocated for the above three events. The city’s Hotel Occupancy Tax funding goes to maintain the Copperas Cove Civic Center, and for events that bring tourism to the city, with the council earmarking funds after an application process by groups during the summer prior to the next fiscal year.
The chamber is also facing a projected lost net revenue of approximately $35,000 due to not holding Rabbit Fest, to include losses from arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, gate admission receipts, along with the carnival and event-related apparel, with a gross revenue loss of $136,225. Projected expenses for the event totaled just over $101,000 to put on the festival.