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Porcfest event draws 900 to Lancaster despite pandemic


by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter
July 03, 2020
LANCASTER — It was a 'show must go on' moment for Crosby Peck, the owner of Roger's Campground when he decided to let the annual Porcupine Festival take place. The pro- Libertarian event lasts for one week and brings in roughly 1,500 people every year.

According to pictures circulating on social media from the 2020 event, social distancing was not happening, and no one could be seen wearing a mask.

That being said, Peck relayed that despite photos some people were wearing masks.

"I did see a considerable amount of people wearing masks," Peck said. "There were people from all over the country here, and I did see people shake hands, then step back six feet."

When asked if he was concerned with Covid-19 spreading into the community of Lancaster, Peck said, "If I was concerned, I wouldn't have had the event. I have a health background and a business background so I looked at this from both sides."

He went on to say, "We don't want to scare people, we need to educate them. This is a serious pandemic, anything that causes death is serious. Maybe things opened up too soon, maybe not."

Peck said he does wear a mask when he's out in public.

The campsite has a capacity of 3,000, which means that Peck was in compliance with operating at a 50 percent capacity. Peck said that every other campsite was used to create space. Calls were made to the Attorney General's office and Peck did receive a letter from Weeks Hospital stating concerns for the community if a gathering of that magnitude was held in the middle of a pandemic, in a place with no cases. Peck said that on Monday, two of his employees were sent home sick. He did say that all employees undergo a temperature check before coming to work each day, and that each individual sent home did not have a temperature.

Lancaster Selectman Leon Rideout said, "We did talk to the owner and reminded him of his obligations, but under the state guidelines, they are not in violation. Despite that, everyone did have concerns and still do with outside people coming in and staying at our campgrounds and potentially bringing this disease to a place where we don't have it."

Rideout said, "As long as they are complying with the guidelines, there is very little we can do. The Attorney General was made aware of it ahead of time, and inquiries were made to the Governor's office on how it should be handled. There is a growing concern with so many out of state plates, but unfortunately there's nothing we can do to stop it. The North Country has done a great job, and has made sacrifices that we need to make, so I'm hoping the out of staters don't ruin it for us."

The Governor's guidelines by law, cannot be enforced, leaving town officials across the state with a no-win situation.

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