Despite virus, Coon and Fox Club has ‘canceled nothing’

During a time when staple festivals and events cease to exist, the summer schedule for the Venango County Coon and Fox Club will remain largely unchanged.

“We’ve canceled nothing,” said Coon and Fox Club President Bogan Goughler.

As the COVID-19 pandemic lingers and mitigation efforts remain in place, the club’s plan to move forward with events could presumably draw large crowds.

“We’re outside and we have the room; people can spread out here,” club Vice President Paul Osborn said.

However, club members said social distancing will be encouraged and masks will be required at certain activities, including the club’s bimonthly breakfasts.

Big Uncle Day, the annual fishing event that offers residents of homes which service residents with intellectual disabilities a chance to get out and fish for a day, is slated for June 20.

“They look forward to it every year,” said Telmar Young, who’s been a part of the Coon and Fox Club since the 1950s.

The biggest difference this year, though, will be the absence of Polk State Center residents.

“They’ve still got them locked down,” said Young, who lamented many Big Uncle participants who come from Polk Center have been attending the event for many years.

With the lack of Polk Center residents, club members said it is more important than ever to continue the community outreach the event began years ago.

Goughler said individuals wishing to participate do not have to live in a group home or structured environment, but can be community members with disabilities of all kinds.

“(People) on the autism spectrum to disabled veterans,” Goughler said.

Members stressed participation is not limited to those with disabilities.

“We need the helpers. If we didn’t have them, we wouldn’t be able to have Big Uncle Day,” Young said.

A much bigger event for the club is Bluegrass Weekend, which is scheduled twice a year.

“I think they’re really going to pick up this year,” Young said.

The weekends, scheduled in July and September, will be held in much the same manner as they always have been, with an extra emphasis on distance and crowd limits.