By KEVIN BESSLER
The Center Square
The Grand American, the largest trapshooting event in the world, is leaving Illinois and heading to Missouri this year.
The Illinois Department of Public Health and the Department of Natural Resources ruled that the annual event cannot take place near Sparta because of COVID-19 health concerns. Restrictions regarding the size of public gatherings under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s reopening plan left organizers scrambling.
“The health and safety of participants who would attend, as well as spectators and staff, must remain top-of-mind,” Illinois Department of Natural Resources Director Colleen Callahan said.
In anticipation of the decision, the Amateur Trapshooting Association had determined if the event could not be held near Sparta, Illinois, it would be relocated to Linn Creek, Missouri, in Lake of the Ozarks.
Trish Creach, the executive director of the nearby Camdenton Chamber of Commerce, said the town is ecstatic.
“We are pleased with the announcement and we will roll out the carpet for the ATA when they arrive in August,” Creach said. “Lodging properties are already getting phone calls from participants that are coming in for this event.”
Illinois State Sen. Paul Schimpf of Waterloo said the news was a disappointment.
“Obviously we don’t like the economic hit that the region is going to take, but more importantly I am disappointed by the governor’s failure to lead on this,” he said. “The governor’s refusal to listen to us is probably the most disappointing aspect of this.”
The event has an estimated economic impact on the region of between $20 million and $30 million.
The ATA has a contract with the state of Illinois through 2026, but Schimpf said he was worried this may damage relations for the future.
“I do know for a fact that there are board members on the trapshooting association who have wanted to relocate this event prior to this year and there are other venues that are very eager to host it, so it certainly can’t help the situation as far as having this remain in Illinois for the long term,” Schimpf said.
Bost weighs in on loss of trapshooting competition
U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, released the following statement after the Illinois Department of Public Health and Department of Natural Resources determined that the Amateur Trapshooting Association could not hold the Grand American trapshooting competition near Sparta this year:
“While the health and safety of Illinoisans remains our top priority, we are witnessing the real-world consequences of a shutdown gone too far. The Great American trapshooting competition is a time-honored event in Southern Illinois and a point of pride for our people. Banning this year’s event shows a lack of appreciation for how COVID-19 impacts different regions differently and ignores the simmering frustration of Southern Illinoisans desperate to jumpstart our economy.”