AKRON, Ohio — Most large summer events in Akron this year, including all concerts and festivals at the Lock 3 outdoor park, have been postponed until 2021, the city announced Wednesday.
Smaller events are being considered and tentatively planned with health and social distancing precautions in mind, according to a news release from the City of Akron.
“Ohio Governor DeWine and Health Director Dr. Acton have publicly indicated that large gatherings will be the last wave of activity to be opened back up,” Deputy Mayor for Integrated Development James Hardy said. “After lengthy discussion with state and local health officials, we determined that it was not tenable to plan large, close-quarters events for this spring or summer, as those would likely still create an unacceptable risk of spreading COVID-19. Additionally, it will be necessary for the City to put in place public health protocols for programming that does occur this summer, including wearing cloth masks and achieving good physical distancing. We want to give our staff, performers, and fans timely information so they know what to expect and how to plan.”
The city is working to develop alternative programming where possible to offer recreation and entertainment in ways that are safe and allow for social distancing. For example, one idea is to create smaller fireworks shows around Akron on July 4, instead of the large Independence Day celebration at Lock 3.
“As we look to an uncertain future with respect to this virus, the City must make decisions now. As we considered whether to hold events and support the community this summer, the conclusion to postpone festivals and Lock 3 programming was a very difficult decision, one we certainly did not welcome,” Mayor Dan Horrigan said. “These events are important moments in our community that we look forward to each year, and it is a significant loss to forgo these celebrations. But we knew 2020 was going to be different, and large gatherings are unlikely to be safe for some time. The health and well-being of our residents, customers and staff come first. We look forward to welcoming the public back to Lock 3 when the time is right. In the meantime, we will be creative in how we engage and entertain the community this year.”
Hardy estimated all of the canceled festivals, concerts and other major events will cost the city between $500,000 and $750,000. In addition, there will be a ripple effect on businesses near Lock 3.
"The economic impact to Lock 3 to downtown restaurants, bars and businesses is exponential," Hardy said. "That's in fact why the city 17 years ago decided to create a central park."
Rick Perk, one of the promoters of Akron Pizza Fest, said the event brought in about 20,000 people last year. Those who organize the festival stand to lose between $25,000 and $35,000 because of the postponement.
"Disappointment, but with the uncertainty that's going on pertaining to the virus, we understood," Perk said. "I don't want to second guess the mayor and his team. They have a lot more information and they have a lot more responsibility than we do as the promoters."
Below is a list of impacted events from the city’s news release:
The following events are POSTPONED and will not be held in 2020:
- All City-sponsored events with an expected attendance of 250 or more, scheduled before September 7, 2020
- Friday Night Rock the Lock Series
- Lock 3 Saturday Night Concerts
- Lock 3 Festivals, including:
- Kids Festival (would have been held June 20)
- Rib, White and Blue (would have been held July 1-4)
- Italian Festival (would have been held July 9-11)
- African American Festival (would have been held July 18-19)
- Taste of Ireland (would have been held August 8)
- Pizza Festival (would have been held September 4-6)
- The annual Akron Arts Expo (would have been held July 23-26)
- Sunday Akron Symphony Orchestra concerts
The following City-sponsored events remain subject to postponement/cancellation, based on public health guidelines and available resources. The City is examining ways to safely host:
- Late Night Basketball
- Lock 4 Blues and Jazz
- Lock 4 Gospel
- Lock 3 Beer Tastings
- Lock 3 Movies
- Cascade Food Trucks
- Summer Concert Series in the Park
- Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival
Akron community centers are scheduled to reopen for core operation on June 1, and the Recreation Division is planning to move forward with summer camps at community centers. The city plans to open outdoor pools and splash pads at Joy Park and Patterson Park on June 8. The city is working with Akron Public Schools and the Ohio Department of Education to determine how to move forward with the Summer Food Service Program for access to food for students and families in need.
Events hosted or sponsored by private community groups that required city property or permits have been canceled through June 1, and future events are subject to cancelation based on public health orders or guidelines, the release states. City officials say to contact individuals organizations for the status of these events.
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