The Painful Truth About The Future of Festivals

What Social Distancing at Festivals might look like in 2020

Every event aims to draw crowds and provide good music, great food, and a community fun atmosphere.  Can that happen in 2020 with Covid-19 Social Distancing requirements?  Here are ideas on how this might look this year.

Looking out on the crowd from the stage, you will see rows of people enjoying themselves, but the layout is like none you have ever witnessed.  Families are nestled in small groups, and you hear the muffled cry of “Ba-Ba-Ba” as the crowd sings along to Sweet Caroline through their masks.  These are some of the changes I see coming.

Social distancing at a park

Here’s how I see any festival working in 2020.

1) The audience will be smaller because of the fear of Covid-19, unemployment,  government restorations, and budget cuts will draw smaller crowds.

2) One-way aisles will move people in a pattern to reduce face-to-face interaction: food courts, vendor displays, and entrance and exit upon entering the festival.

3)  Local businesses will sponsor social distancing public service announcement signs and as another way to generate revenue.

Sponsored Social Distancing Sign for festivals

4) Queues of people waiting for food will be replaced by a number system texted or announced.

5) Food vendors accept orders via text app and pay online. When food is ready, the customer is texted and can come safely to receive their food.

6) Shows and inactive entertainers can use an online number system.  Register for a show online and be assigned a number. Numbers between 0-50 get to sit on the lawn.  Numbers 51-100 will be notified of availability or standing area.

7) High-top tables, perfect for small groups of 4-5, can be stationed 10 feet apart, giving groups of 4 to 5 to adequately use the high-top table but still have room between groups.

8) Cleaning crews with brightly colored shirts wearing masks whose only responsibility is to wipe down tables and disinfect surfaces would be seen throughout the festival.

9) Dozens of hand sanitization stations are spaced 6-feet apart  and line the pathway entering and exiting the festival

Disposal Hand Washing Station

10) Every half hour, you would hear a public service announcement reminding all guests to use social distancing, and creative content producers will use humor along with reminders to respect everyone’s personal space.

11) Media organizations, once focused on talking about events and bands, will speak and write about safety precautions the event management is implementing.

12) Large screen projection displays will show a variety of acts as audiences stand further back

13) Proactive venues will have a temperature station. I am not an expert here, as I am not sure how these thermometers work when pointed at an individual standing outside in 100-degree heat.

14) Entertainment and vendor contracts will all contain a last-minute cancellation policy due to the Covid-19 outbreak that would hold the venue not liable for payment.

15) A station will be staffed at each entrance and exit, recording numbers of people entering and exiting.  These two stations would communicate every 30-minutes to determine if the venue could safely handle more guests while keeping a good social distancing practice policy in place.

16) The audience would be encouraged to bring their facemask, and if not, one would be provided upon entrance for a small fee.  We’ve all seen the sign before, no shoes, no shirt, no service, just include no mask.

17) The vendor’s area will require face masks and social distancing with message labeling on the ground instructing attendees to stay within the designated area.

18) The festival’s compacted footprint is long gone as social distance has festivals expanding or adjusting to social distancing.

19) Carnival rides will be disinfected, and/or guests will be required to sign a legal waiver preventing a lawsuit,  saying, “The rider rides at their own risk.”

20) Unlike years past, high school kids seeking community hours and temporary summer staff will not be available as many of the departments will be running on reduced staff, as budget cuts and the Covid-19 has reduced the volunteer staff

21) The new procedures will make the festival safer, cleaner, and everyone involved will be looking to make it as fun as possible. These changes, cuts, and regulations will make it harder for everyone attending and working at a festival.

Public safety is a high priority for every festival, and I’m sure festival management will do its best to ensure a safe event.  However, it still relies on each individual to protect themselves and take the necessary precautions they feel are appropriate for their family.

What are your feelings, thoughts, suggestions, or comments?  Lastly, make sure you subscribe and don’t miss another excellent blog post. Click here to subscribe now.

The Painful Truth About The Future of Festivals
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The Painful Truth About The Future of Festivals
A detailed article outlining 21-ways large festivals will change because of COVID-19
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Balloon Animals Blog
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2 thoughts on “The Painful Truth About The Future of Festivals”

  1. You make some great points! I’m a juggler from NJ. I work a lot of festivals each year. I’ve had quite a few cancellations so far. Here in NJ, the governor recently said outdoor events can have up to 500 people starting on July 3rd. Due to social distancing requirements, entertainers who do shows outdoors may have to make some changes to their shows. I think you’ll have to incorporate routines that play “big” and can be seen from a distance. I think budget cuts will be an issue for the outdoor market. Sponsorship $ might be hard to come by as well. I found this to be the case during the recession of 2008-2009. Even if things are back to “normal” by next summer, some entertainers might have a tough time landing outdoor work. A lot of entertainers who had their gigs cancelled this year will be given priority for the same events next year, leaving others out in the cold. I can certainly see this happening with other venues as well. Just my opinion.

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