Michigan Mud Jam cancels amid back-and-forth

A Michigan Mud Jam billboard in Iosco Co.
A Michigan Mud Jam billboard in Iosco Co.(WJRT)
Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 11:23 PM EDT
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IOSCO CO., Mich. (WJRT) (08/06/2020)-The pandemic response has sidelined countless events and continues to do so. That didn’t stop one local mainstay from trying anyway. Yet, empty these stands will remain. Michigan Mud Jam announced earlier this week it wouldn’t be returning to the Iosco County Fairgrounds this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week’s endth-hour cancellation marked the end of the road and a sea change for one of the summer lineup’s last holdouts. Mud Jam has called out the quarantine in fiery videos posted to its Facebook page, letting fans know the event would go on regardless, even in defiance of current state guidelines.

ABC 12 has heard from concerned people around Hale, who emailed in anonymously as late as last week when the event was still a go and started asking questions. This reporter reached out to Mud Jam on Facebook Messenger and was told someone would be in touch. I ultimately got Ron Heal -- one of the event’s promoters – on the phone Thursday.

“Would you have been able to, in your estimation, keep those people safe?”

“We had social distancing plans, all of the work done,” related Heal. “We spent hours and hours on all this stuff.”

“When we first started meeting with them, the COVID thing was diminishing to a pretty good degree,” explained Iosco County Sheriff Allan MacGregor.

Sheriff MacGregor tells ABC 12 that he and other law enforcement agencies have worked alongside Mud Jam staff from the outset.

“The big thing is, these people are coming from all corners of the State of Michigan,” related Sheriff MacGregor. “They’re coming from some of the hot areas for COVID.”

The sheriff tells ABC 12 he respects their decision, but also reports that he told promoters from day one, law enforcement would have to shut the party down if it violated any number of standing executive orders.

“They’re huge numbers,” described MacGregor. “Any one day out there on the weekends, there could be anywhere from six to seven thousand people… There’s no way you could do social distancing, there’s no way anyone’s going to wear a mask.”

Heal tells ABC 12 they’d been consulting with their lawyers in the days ahead of its cancellation. Though this reporter was told the health department had the final word, leading to a concise announcement posted to its Facebook page: “At this time there is no way of moving forward without everyone being removed a day after the event starts!”

“The support we’ve been shown from everybody planning on coming has been outstanding,” said Heal.

The role public concern or our poking around may have played in that decision isn’t clear. Organizers have told fans to hold on to their tickets for next year, vowing to honor them at any Mud Jam event, which they hope will go on in 2021--COVID free.

Copyright 2020 WJRT. All rights reserved.

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