Governor Greg Abbott issued an order Thursday requiring masks in public and limiting the size of outdoor gatherings. See "Governor issues order requiring face coverings in public" for an update on how the order will affect Fourth of July events in Moore County.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) health crisis killed Dogie Days, Sunray Funday, and other events this summer, but the Fourth of July celebration in Dumas -- at least in modified form -- lives on. On Saturday, between 23 and 30 teams will compete for cash prizes in the mud pits on South Maddox next to the Moore County Senior Center in the annual Dumas/Moore County Chamber of Commerce Mud Volleyball tournament, according to Chamber Executive Director Carl Watson. Twenty-three teams have already registered, but Watson says he expects more. Last year, 35 teams competed.
Watson says the nature of the event -- outdoors and played by small numbers of people -- makes it well-suited to go on now as the health crisis eases here. Moore County has seen a steep decline in the number of new COVID cases in recent weeks, even as the state as a whole has been dealing with a dramatic surge. On Tuesday, The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) showed Moore County as having 75 active COVID cases, down from more than 80 a week ago. Also on Tuesday, DSHS reported Moore County had only one new case that day and a seven-day average of new cases of one. The Moore County Hospital District has reported no COVID patients hospitalized in Moore County and no Moore County residents hospitalized in Amarillo or elsewhere for more than two weeks.
The elimination-type competition will begin at 8:00 am and continue until the top four teams are determined. The first place winner will take home $500, second place will receive $300, third place $200, and fourth place $100. Most of the teams are from Dumas. In the past, teams from Amarillo and elsewhere have competed, but Watson says the special circumstances of this year makes it unlikely that out-of-town teams will show up.
As always, Watson adds, he is looking for volunteers to be referees, judges, and counters.
In addition to watching mud volleyball, Moore County residents who find their way to McDade Park on the fourth will be able to get their fix of select Dogie Days foods. Moore County Judge and Lion Rowdy Rhoades says the club will be setting up and offering hamburgers, curly fries, rooster eggs, turkey legs, and barbecue sandwiches. The Lions will open at 8:00 am with the beginning of the volleyball and serve breakfast burritos. The hamburgers and other foods begin at 10:00 am and continue throughout the day until 10:00 pm, or until the Lions run out of food. Drive through service for the food is available.
The Dumas Fire Department volunteer firefighters will operate a concession stand and, as always, the department will provide a water truck and firefighters to hose off muddy volleyball players.
Saturday evening after 9:00 pm, or as soon as it gets dark, the City of Dumas and the Dumas Fire Department will present the annual fireworks display, but this year with a difference: in a concession to the need for social distancing, there will be no audience in Demon stadium. People wishing to see the show will have to park at the stadium or somewhere in the vicinity and watch from their cars, on tailgates, or standing or sitting outside.
Dumas Fire Department Chief Ronald Pray urges people who intend to shoot off their own fireworks in the county to be careful. The grass is dry; there is a burn ban in effect in the county. But "our drought numbers didn't meet the numbers needed to be able to regulate fireworks this year." People are permitted to shoot off fireworks in the county. (It is always illegal to shoot off fireworks within the city limits of Dumas.) Nevertheless, the county is dry, and people should "use safety measures and avoid grass fires." Better yet, Pray says, people should turn out for the professional show. "You don't have to worry about spending money … you can enjoy the show and keep social distance. Everybody should be fine. We will have a good show and take care of everybody's concerns."