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Northern Challenge Fishing Derby frozen until 2022

TUPPER LAKE — The Northern Challenge ice fishing derby has drawn hundreds out onto the frozen surface of Simon Pond — also known as Lake Simond — in recent years, but this year the event has been cancelled due to the coronavirus.

“Due to not being to meet the Covid guidelines we are forced to cancel this years Northern Challenge,” Tupper Lake Sports Club President Dave McMahon, who organizes the event, wrote in a Facebook post. “It is the club’s responsibility to ensure our community and yours is safe from this virus. See you in 2022.”

Last year the event brought 1,448 people out.

“I feel pretty bad because it’s a big economic boost to the entire area that’s been suffering since March because of this COVID,” McMahon said in a phone call Monday. “The event puts a lot of money into the communities at a time when there’s absolutely nothing else going on.”

He said he would have liked to see the derby be an economic shot in the arm for restaurants and hotels, which he said still have bills and employees to pay.

He explained why even the spread-out outdoor event could not meet the state’s guidelines.

“It’s the crowd size in the end,” McMahon said.

He said the club could not afford to pay if it got fined because of the event. He also said the derby draws crowds from many states. Despite the benefits of the event, he said not holding it is what is best for the community.

“The last thing we want to do is bring COVID into our community,” McMahon said. “Our responsibility as a club is not just to make money for the club and the people here, but to protect the people here.”

He said if virus conditions change in the next few months, they will still not plan to hold it until 2022. He said it would take too much planning in too little time.

“We waited as long as we could to make this decision, and once the decision is made, it is almost impossible to catch up ground,” McMahon said.

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