Lone Star Rally, the motorcycle event that attracts more than 500,000 people yearly and holds the spot as one of the island’s largest festivals, has been postponed until November 2021.
The announcement came Wednesday as coronavirus cases continue to increase in Galveston County and the Houston region. And it marks the first major festival to bow out of Galveston’s shoulder season, the period between summer and spring during which the island economy depends on special events drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors.
Lone Star Rally made the announcement Wednesday afternoon in a statement from promoter Melissa Penland.
“With respect for the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the best interest of the city of Galveston’s residents, our patrons, sponsors and entertainers, we have made the difficult decision to postpone the Lone Star Rally this year,” Penland said.
The festival, which was scheduled to run from Nov. 5 to Nov. 8, has been pushed back to Nov. 4 through Nov. 7 of 2021, Penland said. Because of dates of other motorcycle events planned for next year and the dates that work for the city of Galveston, it doesn’t make sense to hold the event earlier in the year, Penland said.
“We have been closely monitoring local and regional news updates and discussing potential safety and health issues with city officials,” Penland said. “With so much information changing daily, we believe it would be difficult to ensure a safe and fun event for everyone to enjoy.”
In early June, Penland had said organizers were tentatively planning to move ahead with the festival but were keeping an eye on case levels.
A study of the 2016 Lone Star Rally estimated the festival has an economic benefit of about $115.6 million for the city in hotel bookings, restaurant tickets, retail shopping and other revenue.
Galveston has hosted the Lone Star Rally event since 2003.
Lone Star Rally isn’t the first big festival to cancel.
The Sandcastle Festival, hosted by the American Institute of Architects in Houston, announced last month it would postpone its August festival until 2021 over concerns that participants couldn’t practice social distancing and that the firms that normally participate wouldn’t want to this year.
The city of Galveston isn’t issuing permits for special events through the end of July over concerns about spreading the virus.