The 2019 novel coronavirus has forced the cancellation of another civic celebration: the annual ride through Sequim’s heralded lavender fields.
Organizers of the Tour de Lavender announced last week that the event, scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 1, has been called off.
The Olympic Peninsula Bicycle Alliance (OPBA), the group hosting the event, determined that “the unknowns and uncertainties that continue to surround the Covid-19 outbreak pose unacceptable risks to the health of our riders, our volunteer crew, and our community,” tour event director Ken Stringer said.
Under Gov. Jay Inslee’s phased approach to allow opening of businesses and group gatherings, the earliest an event like the Tour de Lavender wouldn’t be allowed until mid-July, Stringer notes.
The majority of Tour de Lavender riders over the years, he said, has come from more than 50 miles away with more than 30 percent being out-of-state travelers.
And while the event has brought in- and out-of-region tourism dollars to the region, Stringer said a 2020 Tour de Lavender “would also introduce a significant potential health risk difficult, if not impossible, for (tour) organizers to assess, let alone mitigate effectively.”
Over the past seven years, the Tour de Lavender has become the largest cycling event on the Olympic Peninsula. Stringer said the event draws “a devoted group of return riders who come back year after year because they love the ride, the atmosphere, the beauty and Sequim-Dungeness Valley, and the incredible hospitality of the lavender farmers and everyone in the area.”
Stringer remained optimistic about bringing the tour back next summer, however.
“The Tour de Lavender will be back in 2021,” he said. “As it has been for the past seven years, it will be bigger and better than ever.”