Paducah, Kentucky's annual Lowertown Arts and Music Festival was originally supposed to be held in early May, but the pandemic forced the organizers to cancel. The Yeiser Art Center and Lowertown festival committee have tentatively rescheduled for October. Seth Murphy, LTAMF music director, speaks with Tracy Ross about what the festival might look like in a new, socially distanced world.
The decision to cancel a festival that requires months - and even years - of planning is not an easy one to make, nor is the decision to reschedule. Amidst an unprecedented event planning hiccup, "we kind of all got into a huddle when we worked with the city to make the decision to postpone all the events happening this summer," Murphy says. "We all got together and tried to forecast best we could when might be a safe time later in the year to reschedule. We talked with the city of Paducah and a lot of the other big events normally that would happen during the summer and hashed out a date in October that worked for everyone."
The festival committee and Yeiser directors are also currently in communication with other festival organizers around the country. With new social distancing guidelines to follow, "we think this event is going to be a lot different this year. It's not going to be a typical Lowertown Arts and Music Festival you're used to seeing in May," Murphy says. "People are making sure that lines are safe...people getting in lines and...in the street...the density of crowds, things like that. Food handling is another one -- making sure that that's safe and sanitary and following guidelines."
Although the festival might look a little different this year, Murphy says he was pleased to find most of the musicians scheduled to perform in May were able to accommodate a rescheduled date in the fall. To replace the artists featured on the original line-up who could not make the October date, S. G. Goodman of the Savage Radley and Joslyn and The Sweet Compression (both Kentucky-based acts) have been added to the bill.
Artists and food vendors will remain a staple of the rescheduled festival, too. "We've got lots of artists [and] food vendors interested in the event. We're staying in touch with them about best practices as they develop," Murphy adds.
"I think by the end of [June], we'll have a lot closer grasp of what the 2020 October festival is going to look like. Just stay with us and check us out on social media and our website. Check in with the Yeiser, see what's happening there, as we make it through the summer together," Murphy concludes.