Press Release – May 6, 2021
AURORA – Due to the level of uncertainty that remains this spring, especially when events require planning and preparations months ahead, the Fox Valley Park District has canceled the Mid-American Canoe & Kayak Race, originally scheduled for early June.
2021 marks the fourth-consecutive year the Mid-Am has remained ashore, with 2018 and 2019 sidelined due to dangerous water levels and flow rates in the Fox River, and 2020 and 2021 the result of pandemic-related concerns.
“Because of the lead times and logistics of coordinating a complicated event, we need to ensure we have the proper safety considerations in place – and we just can’t guarantee it,” said Jaime Ijams, the FVPD’s director of recreation. “We didn’t want to plan the event and accept people’s money with only the potential of having the restrictions eased in time.”
District officials explored options of postponing the race until a later date this summer, but after contacting canoe-rental facilities – many of which will have depleted inventories due to other postponements across the area – and considering that “back to school” time brings its own set of responsibilities, the FVPD ultimately opted to cancel.
“We were planning on postponing due to the uncertainty of the virus,” Ijams said. “In April, when we saw the spike in the high schools, we were worried that it might continue on for a while.”
Ijams said a recent production of Robin Hood was moved outside, just in case restrictions changed from the time the FVPD’s performing arts department began planning and assembling the cast.
As for the Mid-Am, which has drawn around 1,200 participants and 700 boats in years past, it simply wasn’t logistically feasible, Ijams said.
“A lot of participants come from surrounding states and if we’d moved it closer to the start of the school year, it starts getting busy again,” Ijams said.
Due to another cancellation, along with no guarantee that the river will be navigable from a safety standpoint due to the water level and flow rate in early summer, Ijams said District officials will look at alternate ways to resume the running of the popular Mid-Am race in 2022.
“This is a good time to look at options,” she said. “We understand that the Mid-Am can be anything from a competitive race for avid paddlers, to a longstanding family tradition, to a fun, social event to kick off the summer season.”