Claud Rosendale, president of the Barnsdall Chamber of Commerce, on Monday announced the heartbreaking news that his city’s prime annual celebration — Big Heart Day — will not be held this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The 67th annual Big Heart Day observance was to have been May 22-23. Big Heart Day usually features turtle races, class reunions, live music and much more. It is a down-home, small-town homecoming. A year ago, it was almost washed out by the spring flooding that devastated portions of Osage County, but this year the threat of the novel coronavirus has nixed it for now.


“You are all aware of the COVID-19 outbreak and the impact it is having on our state, nation and around the world,” Rosendale said in a statement. “As a result of the current medical crisis and the fact that the Oklahoma Tax Commission is not currently issuing any event permits, it is with a heavy heart that we have decided to cancel the 2020 Big Heart Day celebration.”


Rosendale went on to say that he will be contacting event sponsors and vendors. Thousands of dollars worth of sponsorships had already been confirmed for the 2020 version of Big Heart Day, which takes place on the Memorial Day weekend.


Numerous other events in Barnsdall have been canceled because of the pandemic, including the annual Easter Egg Hunt, for which there were to be 3,000 candy filled eggs. The hunt was to have taken place Saturday, April 11, the day before Easter Sunday.


Other Barnsdall events that Rosendale announced Monday have been canceled include: the weekly Wednesday Senior Nutrition Lunches, until further notice; the Monday/Wednesday Senior Ladies Breakfast & Exercise Programs, until further notice; the 3rd Thursday Dinner and Bingo, until further notice; the April 1 Triad Eye Clinic free eye exam; the April 2 Barnsdall High School Blood Drive; the April 6 Big Heart Day Planning Meeting; and the April 14 Barnsdall Chamber of Commerce meeting.


Rosendale said by telephone Monday afternoon that it might be possible to have an out-of-season egg hunt later on, but something as complex as Big Heart Day would be hard to reorganize later in the year.


“It’s not good, after 66 years of having it consecutively,” he said. “It was a hard decision, but I just don’t see this getting better.”