Welch came to Amador County in 2007 after working his entire career at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Sunnyvale. He purchased land in Amador County many years before that, and upon retirement, Welch built his retirement home on the property. Several years later, he connected with past Lions Club president Beau Gillman, who invited Welch to join the Lions Club in 2015.
After Welch worked on several Club activities including Dandelion Days and become the vice president of the club. It naturally followed that the Club elected him president in 2019, and his term ends in 2021. As he hit his stride as president in 2020, Welch said, “little did I know what an unusual and challenging year it would turn out to be!”
As the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic became clear in spring 2020, Welch said the Club canceled Dandelion Days “literally at the last minute.” He added that the Club didn’t make this decision lightly because Dandelion Days has been a signature Jackson event since the 1970s and the Lions Club has managed the event since 1983.
The Club was also very aware that the pandemic could affect Dandelion Days in 2021, but they decided to plan and prepare for this year’s event in the hopes the pandemic would subside. As cases started to spike in November, it was clear that the Lions Club had to make a choice about how to move ahead with its March 2021 events: Dandelion Days and the annual Crab Feed. The Lions Club decided to cancel both.
“We possibly could have gotten permission from local government agencies to conduct a much scaled-down version of the event, but it would have been nothing like the Dandelion Days event people have come to know,” Welch said. “Even with all those restrictions, we couldn’t be sure that it would be safe for everyone and that the disease wouldn’t be spread by the event. Potential liability was also a consideration as many businesses and other groups that sponsor events have found out during the pandemic.”
What’s more, the sudden cancellation of the Halloween Parade in October informed the Club’s decision to cancel Dandelion Days this year. A couple of days before the parade, one member involved in the preparations that he interacted with another person who tested positive for COVID-19. This member got tested and was negative. However, Welch said, “we decided we didn’t want to take any chance that the Parade might contribute to spreading the disease, especially since this was when the disease was accelerating. Simply put, better safe than sorry.”
No matter what happens in 2021, the Lions Club will continue to fulfill its “We Serve” motto with events to benefit the community. Welch noted that money from the Lions Club provides scholarships for local students, help to local people who have vision and/or hearing issues, and the Junior Livestock program at the Amador County Fair.
He added that without the help of the City of Jackson, Main Street businesses, and other local businesses, the local Lions Club couldn’t succeed. “Their continuing support for our events is extremely important, and we greatly appreciate it.”
The Lions Club has also decided to cancel its annual Crab Feed that is held in early March, but Welch is hopeful about holding the remainder of its scheduled activities in 2021. “We feel very confident we can open our Fireworks Sales Booth at Detert Park this summer since we were able to do that this year with the appropriate COVID-19 prevention measures,” he said. “We are optimistic that our 3rd of July Fireworks Show, Beer Booth sales at the Amador County Fair, and Halloween Parade will all be possible in 2021.”
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