The COVID-19 pandemic still has many communities wrestling with decisions to host free concerts this summer. The update at Local Spins, with the schedule for Cutlerville shows.
In Lowell, it came down to erring “on the side of safety.”
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In Cutlerville, it’s “full swing ahead.”
On the same day that LowellArts and the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce officially canceled this summer’s free Lowell Showboat Sizzlin’ Summer Concerts series due to COVID-19, Cutlerville announced it would move forward with five free outdoor concerts at Cutler Park in July.
For many communities hosting free weeknight concerts every summer, deciding to move forward or cancel has been difficult. Officials wrestle with government restrictions, social-distancing protocols, sponsorship concerns, the vulnerability of some concertgoers and pressure from citizens who want the shows to go on.
“We are saddened because this decision has not come easily,” Liz Baker, executive director of the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce said in a prepared statement about the Lowell concerts that traditionally have taken place on Thursdays on Riverwalk Plaza.
“We have weighed both sides of the scenario through a thoughtful and heartfelt process. Our organizations have a responsibility to follow Executive Orders set forth (by the governor) and we owe it to everyone to keep our community safe.”
The cancellation – which came after 350-plus community members responded to a survey about the concerts – is “a way of honoring health providers, vulnerable community members and visitors,” today’s announcement added.
The series will return in 2021, and all bands and musicians scheduled to perform as part of this summer’s series “have been placed at the top of the list for consideration” for next year’s lineup, organizers stated.
Ada keyboard player Roger MacNaughton, who was slated to perform in Lowell with the band Soul ACCESS on Aug. 27, said while the series cancellation is disappointing, it’s understandable considering the circumstances.
“We were so looking forward to bringing joy to the Lowell crowd this summer, but fully realize that it is far better to err on the side of safety during this pandemic,” he noted.
Worries that it would be difficult to practice social-distancing at the concerts and that many people wouldn’t wear masks played into the decision.
MAX COLLEY III STILL SET TO KICK OFF SOUNDS OF SUMMER SERIES
In Cutlerville, south of Grand Rapids, producer Patty Williams said things are “still full swing ahead with this outdoor concert series” – five Thursday night shows featuring regional acts at Cutler Park, 67601 Cutler Park Dr., starting July 2.
“I am hoping by July that a lot of the COVID concerns and restrictions may be calming down,” Williams told Local Spins. “I certainly will abide by any rules that are in place by the state. But at this point I am going with safe and sensible.”
Although Gov. Gretchen Whitmer today announced the lifting of her stay-at-home order, restrictions limiting gatherings to 100 people or less remain in effect.
The Sounds of Summer concerts, which start at 7 p.m. on Thursdays, are sponsored by Byron Township with professional sound by LW Studios.
This summer’s Cutlerville series will feature jazz with Max Colley III on July 2, rock with Jaded 8 on July 9, bluegrass, country and swing with Oat Bran Boys on July 16, classic country with Dusty Chaps on July 23 and bluegrass with Lare Williams & New Direction on July 30.
Many cities across West Michigan previously have dropped their summer series, including Wyoming, South Haven and others. In addition, the West Michigan Jazz Society’s Monday Jazz in the Park series at Walker’s Millennium Park and the Grand Rapids Art Museum’s GRAM on the Green in downtown Grand Rapids have been canceled.
Find more information on summer series across the region in Local Spins’ Free Outdoor Community Concerts 2020 listing.
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