Ucluelet will need to wait another year to crown the town’s fastest baby as Ukee Days, which features the popular Baby Crawling Contest, has been cancelled for the second year in a row due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Westerly file photo)

Ucluelet will need to wait another year to crown the town’s fastest baby as Ukee Days, which features the popular Baby Crawling Contest, has been cancelled for the second year in a row due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Westerly file photo)

Ucluelet’s Ukee Days festival will not return in 2021

COVID-19 pandemic forces cancellation for second year in a row

Ukee Days has been cancelled for the second year in a row.

“Due to current COVID-19 restrictions and lead time for planning an event, the Parks and Recreation Department is confirming that Ukee Days for 2021 has been cancelled,” said the district’s director of parks and recreation Abby Fortune through a statement released on June 22. “Although we cannot gather in masses, we will be hosting Ukee’s Got Talent virtually this year and community members can expect more details on that soon.”

Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noel told the Westerly News last week that while the province moved into Stage 3 of its reopening plan, meaning outdoor events of up to 5,000 people are permitted, there was not enough time to scramble a Ukee Days event together,

“A thing like Ukee Days is not just done by 10 volunteers, there’s a big wheel to do…It’s not just the parade and pancake breakfast, it’s multiple vendors and independents that are selling things, so pulling something like that off, I’m not saying it’s mission impossible, but the news was just put on us yesterday that restrictions are changing,” he said.

“For sure it would have been nice to have known more rather than just be given two days notice, but this is the way it’s been for a year and a half now…The information that comes from the province and public health orders get dropped on us quite immediate like that without any real advanced notice, whether it’s closing or opening.”

He said he was disappointed to see Ukee Days cancelled for the second straight year, but added residents will be easing into the gradual lifting of restrictions at their own pace and some might not be ready for full blown community events out of the gate.

“I think we’re all disappointed in some way, but as we open up our community and we open up our homes individually, it goes hand in hand with this gradual opening that we’re doing. Personally, there might be people who feel really awkward being in a big setting like that in any case,” he said. “At this point, there is no Ukee Days. I imagine over the coming couple of weeks there could be perhaps a parade and a few others things that could get up at a smaller version. I’m sure Parks and Rec will be diving into that conversation probably after the weekend.”

He added he looks forward to seeing the community able to spend time with one another again.

“It’s critical. We’ve all created some bad habits, there’s some good habits we’ve created, but a lot of us have just been in our own bubbles or we’ve been by ourselves. Slowly having these community events will start to allow us to engage with our friends and neighbours like we used to,” he said.

“Like I’ve said from day one here, keep the spirit of Ukee Days alive and, come the fall, we’ll definitely have some other venues, it won’t be Ukee Days, but hopefully some more community events that we can slowly transition our way into one of those big exciting Ukee Days weekends where everybody’s shoulder to shoulder having a good time.”

He acknowledged the opening of tourism has filled the town with travellers, providing a contrast to an event meant for locals being cancelled.

“Right now, the town is packed and everybody’s just trying to manage their day to day lives,” he said. “The district is always going to take more of a cautious approach. Making these decisions, sometimes they may seem to be very cautious and they are…The district has to lead by example and follow best practices.”

He said he looks forward to Ukee Days returning next year.

“The spirit of Ukee Days is definitely going to be alive, it’s there, we’re all disappointed but just keep the spirit alive and let’s have a good time next year,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re five years old or 50 years old, it’s a weekend where we all get to mix and mingle with each other and it’s memorable for all ages.”


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