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A scene from the 2020 Pinewood Derby action at the Fort Steuben Mall -- File photo

STEUBENVILLE — Normally February is Pinewood Derby time.

But this year is going to be different for the 2021 Boy Scouts of America Two Chiefs District’s annual tradition, according to Joe Kovaleski, longtime chairman.

While there will be a Pinewood Derby this year, it won’t be held the first weekend of February, and it won’t be at the Fort Steuben Mall.

Instead, plans are being made for interested Cub Scouts to race their homemade cars at the derby to be held on May 1 at the Fort Steuben Scout Reservation, located at 79601 Adams Road in Freeport.

“We’ll have to firm up details and plans and activities,” Kovaleski said in a recent phone interview in which he explained the date and location change were made recently in light of COVID-19 precautions.

Details will come at a later date, but Kovaleski noted the decision came last week for the event venue to be the Ken Moore Pavilion at the Fort Steuben Scout Reservation, a more suitable location given pandemic circumstances.

Kovaleski anticipates attendance may not be as high as it normally is, given the FSSR is farther away “out in the woods.”

“It takes about 45 minutes to get there from Steubenville,” Kovaleski estimated. The change in location, however, does afford an opportunity for people to see a facility they may never have visited before.

“It’s a shame we can’t have it in an indoor location but it will be outdoors in a nice pavilion that’s a few years old and there’s plenty of room,” he said.

Planning will include, for instance, recruiting Boy Scout troops to organize games and activities.

The Two Chiefs District, Ohio River Valley Council, encompasses Brooke and Hancock counties in West Virginia and Jefferson and Harrison counties in Ohio. It covers from New Manchester on the West Virginia side down to Bethany and on the Ohio side from Wellsville, the farthest north, down into Martins Ferry.

The derby, which involves an age range spanning from kindergarten through age 11, has been a tradition for many years locally and at one time was held at The Hub in downtown Steubenville.

Kovaleski has been involved in the derby since 1987 and became its chairman a few years later.

The 2019 derby included the participation of girls for the first time with the 2020 Pinewood Derby having its first female winner, honors that went to Reagan Huggins of Pack 334 in Weirton.

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