Officials expect fairs, festivals to resume statewide in the near future with heightened safety measures
BATON ROUGE - Hundreds of fairs and festivals have been canceled statewide since the beginning of the pandemic, but with vaccines rolling out, officials are confident the fun festivities will be back on track soon.
Louisiana Association of Fairs and Festivals hosted a convention Friday night at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Baton Rouge to address concerns of fair and festival organizers.
Despite a year full of cancellations and closures, keynote speaker Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser says festival season will look much livelier in 2021.
President of LAFF Melissa Dottolo says these events are extremely important to communities as they carry on long-term traditions, raise money for non-profits, and have countless opportunities for the youth, but the pandemic put all of that on pause.
"We've had to change everything from health procedures, how we open, when we open. Some of these fairs aren't even sure if they can open. We have to hold back on signing contracts, it's very hard to plan without knowing if we will be able to open," Dottolo said.
Recent progress in COVID-19 vaccine distributions are giving officials confidence that those challenges will not be a concern for much longer.
"Knowing that so many people are getting vaccinated plus so many people have had it and recovered, so that's going to increase the numbers of people who won't get infected. And I believe those numbers are going to continue to trend down and I hope and pray they do because you can see in this room, these people are ready to get back to partying, celebrating, and highlighting their fair and festival, their culture, and their life for their city all over Louisiana," Nungesser said.
Organizers and participants who are concerned for these events got some answers tonight. Nungesser says open-air, outdoor events will likely be back in full swing by festival season, though participants can expect additional safety measures, like masks and social distancing.
"I think that we are looking at a brighter future. I think there are a lot of things that are happening at the moment that we're going to have to get through and we have done so far so good with overcoming them
and I think we're going to continue on that path and we're going to make it out alright," Danielle Jones, Miss Louisiana Association of Fairs and Festivals said.
Nungesser says it's up to the people of Louisiana, but he has faith.
"We've got to bounce back quickly and I know we will because of the love and passion the people of Louisiana have for their town, their city. And you know, that is our best asset. We treat strangers like family. You leave Louisiana, usually, with a friend for life and so you keep coming back. So we'll bounce back. we'll be better than ever," Nungesser said.