Sokaogon Chippewa Community News

SCC Asks Crandon International Raceway to Cancel Races Over COVID-19

By Katie Thoresen, WXPR Public Radio

The Sokaogon Chippewa Community is raising concerns over events planned at the Crandon International Raceway.
It wants the racetrack to cancel its races planned for September because of COVID-19 concerns.
In the past, the races have brought in more than 60,000 people to Forest County. The Sokaogon Chippewa Community estimates there could be an increase of more than 900 cases in Forest County if all those people show up for the races.
The raceway is not sure exactly how many people will actually show up. Raceway Promoter Marty Fiolka said he understands the concerns of the Sokaogon Chippewa Community and takes them seriously.
He says the raceway has gone above and beyond what state laws require to hold the events. It’s put social distancing and other safety measures in place and is making sure everyone who attends knows what they are. You can view its COVID-19 plan here.
“We were ready to open up our doors in June and felt it was the wrong time and the wrong thing, and we could really prepare for Labor Day here, and we feel we’re much better prepared than we would have been two, three months ago,” said Fiolka.
Fiolka worries if the races don’t happen this year, there won’t be future races.
“For the race series we’re involved with, we have extensive contracts as well that have been in place for sometimes as long as two or three years,” said Fiolka. “So we’re obligated to do something here at the racetrack otherwise this racetrack won’t be around.”
Incident Commander Vickie Ackley says the Sokaogon Chippewa Community understands the financial burden the pandemic is having. The Mole Lake Casino and Lodge would normally be completely booked during race weekends. It’s been shut down for the last five months because of COVID-19.
“That is our number one revenue source for the Mole Lake community. That is how serious we are about trying to protect our community and especially our Elders,” said Ackley.
The Sokaogon Chippewa Community said they have more than 100 Elders, all who are vulnerable to COVID-19.
“Our cultures and values are based on what our Elders can pass down to the next generation,” said Ackley. “So if one of our Elders contracted COVID-19, that’s a potential loss to our community.”
The community believes the health risks outweigh any economic gain the races would bring in.
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