LOWVILLE — Because of the temporary cancellation of the popular Snirt Poker Run, a number of would-be participants are calling on other enthusiasts to show up in Lewis County on April 18 anyway, an idea that is not endorsed by county officials or the Snirt sponsors themselves.
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The “Corona Run 2020” Facebook page was created about an hour after the announcement was made by the Snirt sponsor, the Barnes Corners Sno Pals, on Friday.
“They can’t stop this tradition! Let’s all ride on April 18th regardless if it’s Snirt Run or not,” the Corona Run’s page detail section says.
About 1,200 people clicked they are going to the event and 2,700 clicked they were interested, however, the numbers were more stagnant by the end of the day on Monday.
“It’s not an event. It’s a group of ATV enthusiasts getting together to ride for the day,” said Jodi DiPasqua, one of the hosts of the page when answering a question about whether or not the Corona Run has all of the backing of the towns, businesses and necessary permits.
Not everyone, however, is upset with the Sno Pals for making the call to postpone and are frustrated with people saying they will come to Lewis County to do the run anyway.
“Looking at your Facebook page it is concerning that you do not consider the community that you are riding in. The Towns and County give permission to open these roads for riders to ride on. They could close these roads for any reason and the community would suffer. The opening of these roads is a privilege not a right. The State of emergency is here for health reasons for all individuals in your community and ours!” wrote Michael Gille, co-owner of Gille’s Bed and Breakfast in Constableville, “Do the right thing and stay home until the health crisis is over. You will be welcome then.”
Sno Pals President Scott Margeson said in an interview that a large number of riders showing up despite the fact Snirt has been postponed could be both a short and long term issue for the event.
“The future of the Snirt Run is in jeopardy if they do this. They’re supposed to be ambassadors for ATVs and they are not being ambassadors,” Mr. Margeson said.
Al Garlock of Stittville, the originator of the Corona Run and a member of the private ATV group the Verona Mudslingers, said he started the page as a joke, not to steal the event or cause a problem.
“I’m not trying to step on anyone’s toes. I love Snirt. I’m hoping by the time Snirt rolls around (COVID-19 and the related cancellations) will have all disappeared,” he said.
Mr. Garlock, who has his own sticker company, is selling “Corona Run 2020” stickers, t-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies with a logo using the Corona beer logo script and crown.
He said he and his friends intend to ride in Lewis County on the planned Snirt day because they love to ride, not to take away from the event or to defy any laws.
“I’m not going to do anything that jeopardizes Snirt and I’m not going to break any laws. No one wants to ruin anything. We ride in a group of like 45 people and it’s a blast, but to break the laws? No, thank you,” he said.
As a father, Mr. Garlock said he understands the concerns surrounding COVID-19 and does take it seriously but he doesn’t take responsibility for other people’s decision to show up or not and not realizing the Corona Run was “meant as a joke.”
“If the roads for the run are closed and the State of Emergency is still on, making it illegal to even ride, then that’s it. I’m not going to ride. I will want to, but I’m not going to ride,” he said.
He said he believes that the roads are open to the public and paid for by taxpayer money so it should be ok to ride on the seasonal roads that make up the Snirt event.
Mr. Margeson, however, said that some of the seasonal roads are also part of the Lewis County trail system which the county decides on opening and closing. Seasonal roads can also be closed as they are maintained locally and not by the state.
County board Chairman Lawrence Dolhof wrote two different posts on the Corona page discouraging large groups of riders from showing up on April 18 because the ATV trails on the seasonal roads are closed and because of the seriousness of the health crisis.
“The Snirt Run was postponed due to the emergency situation created by the novel COVID 19 virus. Listen to the message from the President of the United States, the Governor of New York and your local governments. THIS IS SERIOUS! Schools are closed. Bars and restaurants are closed! Be responsible and do not consider coming to this event,” Mr. Dolhof wrote.
County Emergency Services Director Robert MacKenzie said in an interview that there are no support services for the riders that show up despite the postponement and the current health crisis.
“Snirt’s been postponed so emergency services will be there when it’s rescheduled, so why take a chance? If it’s rescheduled, we’re active and willing to participate and have the riders enjoy our great county and all it has to offer,” Mr. MacKenzie said.
Mr. Margeson said the Sno Pals have every intention of re-scheduling the 17th Annual Polaris Snirt Poker Run as soon as it’s safe for the public and for the riders to do so.
The annual Snirt event is a day-long ride that attracts about 3,000 ATVs to Lewis and part of Jefferson counties.