Out of an abundance of caution and concern for public safety, the organizers of the Gaff-n-Go Lineworker’s Rodeo announced today that the 2020 rodeo, scheduled for May 15-16, has been canceled.

A lineworker participates in the annual Gaff-n-Go Lineworker’s Rodeo, canceled for 2020.

The announcement was made by the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives, which hosts the event, and its Rodeo Committee Working Group.

The annual Gaff-n-Go Lineworker’s Rodeo is the largest of its kind in the East and one of the most popular rodeos in the United States. It annually attracts hundreds of lineworkers as well as family, friends and fans as they watch competitors participate in events designed to simulate real-world working conditions.

“Reaching the decision to cancel this year’s rodeo was extremely difficult knowing the countless hours and effort that our electric cooperatives, our sponsors, lineworkers and volunteers have already expended to make our 2020 rodeo the biggest and best ever,” said John C. Lee Jr., chairman of the Rodeo Committee Working Group and president and CEO of Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative in Chase City, Va.

“However, the central theme of our rodeo since its inception 18 years ago has been safety. Our lineworkers operate with the utmost respect for safety and put that respect on display for everyone to see. In that vein, we are honoring our commitment to safety as well by canceling this year’s event because of the ongoing public health crisis,” Lee said.

“Electric lineworkers are expected to answer the call every time, even during a health crisis of this magnitude,” Lee added. “Imagine what we are experiencing now with no power. Keeping these men and women healthy and able to respond is as critical as the measures we are taking to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

The event will not be made up in 2020. Instead, the 18th annual Gaff-n-Go Lineworker’s Rodeo is already planned for May 14-15, 2021 at Meadow Event Park in Doswell, Va., just north of Richmond.

Richard G. Johnstone Jr., president and CEO of the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives, said rodeo organizers will be contacting participants who have signed up for the 2020 event, as well as sponsors, businesses and volunteers associated with the rodeo.

“While we’re extremely disappointed in the cancellation, our electric cooperatives are fully supportive of efforts to control the public health crisis. Rest assured that the Gaff-n-Go Lineworker’s Rodeo will be back in 2021, bigger and better than ever,” he said.