The Lewisville City Council voted unanimously to cancel the annual events at a July 6 meeting, following Gov. Greg Abbott's July 2 order requiring a mayor or county judge to approve gatherings larger than 10 people. The events were originally scheduled for late September and early October.
The cancellations come as Denton County and Lewisville have shown an increase in the COVID-19 testing positivity rate as well as increased signs of community spread, according to a presentation by city spokesperson James Kunke.
A decline in hotel revenue had also affected the budget for Western Days. Kunke said that while that revenue source has shown signs of recovery, another dip could cause more monetary cuts for the event.
Council members listened to a number of added precautions and money-saving measures for Western Days, but they also recognized that holding such a large event would create health and safety risks, regardless of those additional efforts.
"I think if we [were to] move forward, that smacks of 'do as I say, not as I do,'" City Council member TJ Gilmore said. "I can't put us in that position."
Western Days, which in recent years has included live music, mechanical bull rides, a cattle drive parade, gunfight reenactments and arts and crafts vendors, has been an annual event since 1965, according to the city.
The council also decided to cancel the Rocktober concert series because it was scheduled less than two weeks after Western Days and would likely be faced with similar circumstances. The Old Town Holiday Stroll, set to take place in December, will be discussed at a later date.
Lewisville staff are now pursuing the possibility of online streaming for performances that were originally booked for Western Days and Rocktober. More information on continuing the events virtually will be presented at future meetings.
The July 6 vote comes in addition to cancellations earlier this year of other city events, including the Sounds of Lewisville and Red, White and Lewisville, largely due to budgetary losses, Kunke said.
"We were hoping that by the end of September there would be some normalcy and we would be able to continue the Western Days tradition," Kunke said. "But that was an if—big, bold, underlined if—outdoor gatherings [were] allowed and if we can have suitable normal health protocols... and if hotel revenue supports it."