Tallahassee events plan for uncertain future

Published: May. 13, 2020 at 7:13 PM EDT
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By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News

May 13, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Chain of Parks is normally a place for hundreds of people to get together for special events, but the coronavirus is forcing many of those to be put on hold.

More than 20 events are already postponed or cancelled because of the pandemic, but organizers are still pushing forward.

The Chain of Parks Art Festival is one of them. This is the 20th anniversary of the festival, but this year it's re-branding as the "apart" festival, moving from downtown to locations all over Tallahassee.

Originally scheduled for April, the event is postponed for June 20-21, but in a completely new way.

"We were very sad after a year of planning, this was our 20th anniversary," said Festival Chair Kelly Dozier. "Usually we want to gather lots of people together in one place so that everyone sees each other and create community and interaction. Now our goal is to spread everyone apart."

Artists will be spread out across the city. Attendees will drive from booth to booth.

Kerri Post is the Director of Leon County Division of Tourism, and Visit Tallahassee. She says planning for events during a pandemic forces flexibility and understanding.

"The whole event planning process has changed," Post said. "It impacts the vendors, it impacts the venues, the participants, whether they're artists, whether they're ball players, and then you've got the spectators."

The division estimates at least a $5 million loss from events cancelled or postponed this year. But they continue to provide grants and assistance to organizers in order to get them back on the calendar.

"Not just to reschedule, but also in helping them where we can assist in augmenting their cost, because they've lost some of their sponsorships they have for events," Post said.

Organizers say they two big challenges are not knowing when exactly events can start happening, and how they will need to adjust operating in a social distancing world.

As of now, they do have events on the books for late June, July and August.

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