The Dutton Fun Day Committee last week canceled most of the Fun Day events but agreed to go forward with the classic car and motorcycle show with live music at the Legion hall and a food vendor on July 11.
“It was a hard decision,” Chairman Dan Schuler said in a telephone interview on May 29. While the committee appreciated the requests and encouragement to hold the fundraiser for the operation of the Dutton swimming pool, Schuler said, the committee decided that the benefits of the fundraiser would not outweigh the costs. Other fundraising options in support of the pool/park are being considered, including applying for a $10,000 nonprofit grant through the Governor’s Office.
Schuler said several factors played a role in the decision, not the least of which was so many of the people who help with Dutton Fun Day activities are older than 65 or have chronic medical conditions, putting them at greater risk of developing serious complications if they become ill with COVID-19.
On top of that, he said, the governor’s guidelines for holding large events in Phase II would require more help rather than less as a crew of cleaners would be needed to wipe down surfaces, clean bathrooms frequently, serve all food since self-service food is not allowed. Also, the Fun Day organizers would have to build social distancing into all of the events, making sure people stayed six feet away from others as they watched the parade, ate at the Civic Club breakfast.
With the meat shortages in some areas, Schuler said, the committee also was not certain it could procure the pork butts needed for the barbecue in the park.
The situation in Montana with the spread of the COVID-19 illness is changing daily and all of the requirements and conditions for holding events are subject to change nearly daily. “There were just unknowns there,” he said.
Events that will not be offered on Fun Day are: the parade, the barbecue in the pool complex park, the Craig Storle Memorial Fun Run, the Civic Club breakfast, the silent auction in the Legion Hall and the fireworks show.
Schuler said that many Dutton and area businesses have been hit hard economically by the COVID-19 shutdown, and the committee members were also reluctant to ask them for donations.
He said the fireworks show will be back next year with the rest of Fun Day events. “We’ll just have a really cool fireworks show next year,” he said.
The two largest money-making events of Fun Day are the silent auction and food concessions, Schuler said. Fun Day proceeds help the town pay for the operation of the outdoor, summer swimming pool — a mecca for children in this town of just 320 people (according to the 2018 Census estimates).
Schuler said the Fun Day Committee last September made its annual donation for this summer’s pool operating, but without the fundraiser, there won’t be a donation for the 2021 pool season. Fun Day 2019 raised $13,500 for the pool.
Schuler said the committee is hoping to do some other type of fundraiser this year, possibly a raffle of some kind, he said. The committee will also look into applying for a Social Services Nonprofit Grant. These grants, which can be for up to $10,000, are designed to help nonprofit organizations operate and to replace funding lost from event cancelations. The money is part of the $1.5 billion in economic aid the state received from the federal government.
Organizations eligible to apply must be Montana-based nonprofits that are registered and in good standing with the Secretary of State or local tribal government, and must have been functioning before Feb. 15, 2020.
Donations to benefit the pool can be made out to Dutton Fun Day and mailed to Schuler at 1450 18th Road N.E., Dutton, MT 59433.