Belgian-American Days scales down for 2020
Due to the current circumstances pertaining to the coronavirus, the 68th annual Belgian-American Days will be scaled down this year, with a few of the more popular events still being held this weekend.
"The committee has decided to keep Belgian-American Days very low key," said Ghent City Administrator Dawn Vlaminck. “Of course, you can't stop Rolle Bolle. The tournament will move forward as it has every year."
Rolle Bolle has been played ever since the first Belgian-American Days in 1952. The city is now referred to as the "Rolle Bolle Capital of the World".
The 14th annual Ghent Cruisers Car Show, which draws cars from all over the area and beyond, will also still be held along McQuestion Street.
"These two events bring hundreds of visitors to our town, so we decided to keep the other activities to a minimum," said Vlaminck.
The tournament begins Thursday night around 7:30 p.m. and continues Friday and Saturday. There will be two Men's Divisions (A and B), plus a Juniors and Novice Division.
Rolle Bolle is a Belgian bowling game that is somewhat of a cross between curling and horseshoes on a 42-foot long alley with two stakes placed 30 feet apart. Instead of a ball, a solid rubber wheel called a "bolle" is used. The 6-8 inch diameter bolle looks like an oversized hockey puck with the exception being that the bolle is machined at an angle so it doesn't roll straight The roller needs to determine how big of a curve is needed to get closest to the stake.
The object of the game is to roll your bolle as close to the stake as possible. Your opponent then has the choice of attempting to get his bolle to land closer than yours, or try to hit your bolle away from the stake.
There are three people on a team and the first team to eight points is the winner.
Last year's Rolle Bolle event drew 22 teams, but there will likely be less this year.
"We had five teams come down from Canada last year," said Rolle Bolle Coordinator Chauncey Welvaert. "They won't be able to come this year because they can't get out of the country (due to that country's COVID-19 travel restrictions). We're expecting around 15 of 16 teams this year."
Teams from Iowa and Illinois are expected to compete this year along with local and state competitors.
Committee members are still putting together last-minute preparations for Belgian-American Days. There will be a DJ in front of KB's Bar & Grill on Saturday evening, along with some entertainment to be announced.
Also on Saturday, the committee is planning a Belgian Waffle Eating contest with a tentative time at 5:30 p.m. at a site to be determined. There will be various age categories for the waffle-eating contest.
Some of the popular events from the past that won't be held this year include the Challenge of the Lion Mud Run, parade, coronation, softball tournament and street dance.
Ghent Cruisers Car Show
The Ghent Cruisers Car Show will be held on Saturday, Aug. 1. Registration will be from 9-11 a.m. with the show beginning at 11 a.m.
The awards for Sweet Sixteen, Tractors, Motorcycles, Trucks, Ratrods, People's Choice, Mayor's Choice and Best of Show will be handed out at 2 p.m.
The event will also feature many door prizes given out by KISD radio host Mylan Ray. The sponsors ask that social distancing be maintained.
Harvest Festival update
The Porter Harvest Festival committee has been discussing its annual community celebration and have decided to also scale back this year due to the coronavirus on Aug. 14-16. The event is annually held over the third weekend in August.
"Out of respect for our community and the front-line workers in our healthcare systems we will be taking a responsible and safe approach to events that are held. A number of events that we all love will not be held this year, but we want to make sure that our community has the ability to celebrate what we have, while maintaining appropriate distance, and at the same time show support for those who have invested in Porter year after year, our business community," the committee posted on social media.
Watch the Mascot for further details.