Punk Fest to take place despite COVID concerns
Fest 19, a multi-day, multi-venue punk music festival that brings visitors from around the world to Gainesville – and beer trucks laden with PBR – has been given the green light to take place later this month.
It follows a sluggish year last year where shows were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event took place virtually.
This year’s event, scheduled for October 29-31, will be the 19th time it has been held in Gainesville. It will feature more than 270 groups as well as comedians and wrestlers.
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Performances are scheduled at venues across town, such as Bo Diddley Plaza near Town Hall and at clubs such as Mother’s Pub and Loosey’s Downtown.
Nigel Hamm, program coordinator for Bo Diddley Plaza, said festival organizers have secured all permits for the event.
Festival organizers avoided the Comes out of Tom Petty’s birthday party, which was scheduled for October 23-24 at Depot Park but canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
In August, as the Delta variant raged and filled hospital rooms, Mayor Lauren Poe said similar discussions had taken place over whether the festival should also be canceled.
But the drop in the number of COVIDs combined with the focus by organizers on COVID security protocols gave the Fest the green light, officials said.
The event is expected to boost sales at downtown businesses, officials said.
Turista Fugate, bartender at Mother’s Pub and Grill, said she was excited about the return of the event.
âIt’s a lot of fun,â she said. âI miss it. We’re pretty excited, I think it’s great. It brings in a lot of income (to businesses) when everyone goes out of town for the Florida game. -Georgia. “
The festival has long been a popular event in Gainesville, Poe said on Friday.
âHistorically it’s an international draw,â he said. âIt’s one of the first punk rock festivals in the world. It’s always a great fun time and it attracts people from all over the place. We just hope that everything is done responsibly.
Poe said he was happy people got the chance to have fun at the event, but he still has COVID issues. He said that while the city wanted to cancel the event because of these concerns – which it is not – it is doubtful that this could be the case, as much of the entertainment takes place on private property. .
âBut my impression of (the organizers) is that almost everyone, if not everyone, who comes has already indicated that they are vaccinated,â Poe said. âIf this is the case then it should be really safe and everyone should have a good time. “
Fest 19 attendees will be asked to present a negative COVID-19 test or proof that they are fully vaccinated when picking up their passes or tickets for a single show, according to the event’s website.
Festival staff, volunteers and performers will all be vaccinated and masked when interacting with each other and with attendees, the website says.
Masks are required to enter Fest venues and when standing in line to order food, merchandise or drinks, inside bathrooms and âanywhere you can’t distance yourself from othersâ , indicates the website.
Tony Weinbender, an event organizer, said he is confident that COVID security protocols will make it a safe event.
âWe did a survey of our participating ticket holders,â Weinbender said. âWe asked them, ‘If we were to ask you to present a vaccination card to attend the event, would you be able to provide it? “And 96.5 percent of the participants answered,” Yes. “
He said they are trying to expand the outdoor space where the performances are held.
âWe’re going to use hardwood for the first time so we can add another large outdoor site,â he said.
Weinbender estimates the festival crowd could reach 6,000 people, but said it was scattered across the city over several days.
It’s a predominantly punk rock and pop-punk festival, but it also features performances from indie rock, hardcore punk, metal, and ska.
âPunk is a very broad description. It’s in the world of independent music, âWeinbender said. âIn addition, we have actors and we also do independent professional wrestling. “
He said one of the headliners was Hot Water Music, a popular band from Gainesville that performs across the country and just celebrated their 30th anniversary.
âThey are headlining two nights at Bo Diddley Plaza,â he said.
Frank Turner, who was the surprise warm-up artist for the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Summer Olympics, is also scheduled to perform at the Fest.
âFrank Turner is from the UK. It’s a really big name, âWeinbender said. “It’s the headline Friday night.”
He said another popular group scheduled to perform was Murder by Death, a five-piece indie rock band from Bloomington, Indiana.
âThe most popular (the performances) are at Bo Diddley Plaza,â he said.