VAN ZANDT COUNTY–Van Zandt County is going viral after a mass gathering was held for three days, July 16-18, deep in the county close to Mabank.
Photos of the gathering surfaced online, showing hundreds of people gathered at the event. None of the guidelines set forth by Governor Greg Abbott were seen to be in effect, with social distancing and mask mandates largely ignored as coronavirus numbers continue to climb throughout the area.
The group that held the event calls themselves the “Showstoppas Riding Club,” and the event was promoted as the club’s annual campout and trail ride. A fee was charged for entrance to the three-day event, along with promises of a DJ battle, $3,000 in giveaways and live concerts. The location in the flyer is described as being “40 minutes away from Dallas, on 250 acres with five ponds full of big bass fishing.”
A new flyer posted by “The Buckwild Gang” on Facebook stated that “Buckwild Taking it to the Country, Sep. 18, Sep.19 2K20. Book your rooms, RVs and get your horses ready …” The event flyer promises concerts, a $4,000 giveaway and numerous other prizes. Most notably, the bottom of the flyer states that the “Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Department will be on the campgrounds all weekend.” There is no current evidence that the VZC Sheriff’s Office would be on the campgrounds at that time.
VZC resident Amy Seymor, who lives close to the location that the party was held, was outraged at the actions of the group.
“How many thousands of people were there? There is just a load of people who came to our rural area from other cities to gather anywhere they can without group/event restrictions so they can keep spreading COVID-19 to smaller communities with no regard to the people they are affecting. The lack of empathy or consideration for others who are elderly or have pre-existing/compromised conditions that could be affected seems to be minimal at best. I contacted Van Zandt County who was able to confirm they have no event or large gathering restrictions, zero! This is basically saying, bring your concerts, bring your large events, we will take all of the COVID-19 you can give us!”
Van Zandt County Judge Don Kirkpatrick remarked that he did not know of the event until the following Monday, July 21, and that the event flew under the county’s radar. Kirkpatrick said he is concerned about public safety.
“The group had no permit for the event and allegedly violated several of the governor’s executive orders,” stated Kirkpatrick. “You pulled this one off. You got in and you got out (of VZC). I assure you, we’re going to be working with the governor’s office. We’re going to be working with our state officials, sheriff’s office and law enforcement. The next time you are in VZC, you may not have the same outcome as you did this time.”