KALISPELL, Mont. — Montana business owners hope when summer rolls around COVID-19 doesn’t leave them out in the cold again.
The owners of Piroshki Palace, a Flathead food truck, say they’re gearing up for a better summer than last year.
“You get phone call after phone call, message after message, this event is canceled, that event is canceled,” Piroshki Palace owner Galina Mays said.
Mays remembers COVID forcing organizers to cancel almost every event last year.
She said due to event cancellations, they saw sales drop to half last year.
The University of Montana conducted a survey about the impact of COVID-19 on tourism-related businesses. In October, 26% of businesses strongly agreed they couldn’t survive a slow recovery, and 69% strongly agreed they were worried how long economic recovery would take.
“We were gearing up to be big starting in 2020 at the beginning, but then things happened, we just kind of puddled along with everyone else,” Piroshki Palace owner Jeremy Mays said.
But the Whitefish Chamber of Commerce says events are looking up this year.
“This year, I think we’ll see things get back to normal, at least moving into that direction,” Whitefish Chamber of Commerce Kevin Gartland said.
The Chamber says they’re looking at a full schedule. They’re moving forward with Fourth of July fireworks at City Beach, which was canceled last year. The Arts Festival in July and Huckleberry Days in August both went on last year.
When events do happen this year, the Chamber says they’ll adhere to any protocols the city has in place.
“We do have to keep an eye on the virus and see what happens there, all these things are assuming that we don’t see a major uptick in cases,” Gartland said.
According to the Kalispell Downtown Association, Thursday Fest returns in July, while Picnic in the Park is also set to happen this summer.
The Bigfork Chamber of Commerce has the Whitewater Festival listed as tentative for May 28 on their website. The Bigfork Festival of the Arts is scheduled for Aug. 7.