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Numerous events canceled due to COVID surge
BATON ROUGE - Concerns related to the spread of COVID-19 have paused a slew of plans during 2021.
At the start of the year, when federal officials began distributing virus-fighting vaccines to states across the U.S., a number of folks couldn't help but hope to see certain aspects of life quickly return to normal. This included the hope that we would soon be able to host and attend both small and large-scale in-person events.
A number of events did take place in-person; delayed weddings were celebrated and family members who hadn't seen each other during 2020 enjoyed tearful reunions.
But summer brought a surge in COVID cases, which meant another series of event cancellations.
Some of Louisiana's large-scale events that organizers decided to cancel were 'Hunting and Fishing Day,' the Angola Rodeo, French Quarter Fest, and Jazz Fest.
Organizers preparing for major fairs, festivals, concerts, conventions, even weddings, have had to completely re-design prior plans because of the pandemic.
Some of these events are getting completely taken off the planner, but others are going virtual, scaling back, or getting rescheduled for a second time.
In the WBRZ viewing area, Jambalaya fest has been taken off the calendar, Baton Rouge Blues Fest has been scaled back and re-scheduled for later in the year, and the Best Dressed Ball charity event will now take place late October.
Some vendors and venues are even putting COVID-contingencies in their contracts to avoid additional monetary loss. For most of these large events, the time spent working on the details also comes with a team that needs to be compensated for their work.
For others, like the Greater Baton Rouge Parish Fair, volunteers are putting in long hours but money that comes from the event is meant to go back into the community. As of now, the event is still on, but organizers say they're investing time and money into advertising and vendors that could be subject to change.
As for personal celebrations, these gatherings still draw in people from out of town who fill hotel rooms and restaurants. Without weddings and things of the sort, cities have suffered, too.
Hannah Beal, a Baton Rouge bride-to-be who worked as an event planner prior to the pandemic, explained how she handled rescheduling her special day in a recent interview with WBRZ reporter Dana DiPiazza.
Beal rescheduled her special day to the fall of 2021 after COVID restrictions kept her from celebrating on her original date in February. A day set aside for one of the most special experiences, but there is plenty of time and money invested, too.
After working with the Fillmore in New Orleans, Beal says she admires and respects the entertainment and event planning industry immensely. This experience also gave her the tools she needed to completely reconstruct the fine details of her special day in a time of crisis.
"Being able to have that background of planning, I think I was a little bit extra in being able to take my emotions out of it a little bit more and just do the logistical side of it. I could kind of shut down emotionally and just get it re-planned. And of course, it was still very emotional... on the day-of, when we were supposed to be getting married, I was upset. I was genuinely upset."
Beal explains how her positive support system made overcoming those challenging times much more manageable, encouraging others with loved ones in similar situations to show support for the couple's new date rather than sympathy.
"I don't want to be upset anymore. I just want to be excited about the new date. So, just don't reach out and say, 'are you okay? Are you happy? Are you hurt?' Be like, 'I'm so excited about the new date. I'm so excited about the extra time. I'm so excited to see what could come from this.' Rather than playing on the negative side, play on the positive side. Because they've already been through the negative. They don't want to be reminded of it every time they see someone that was part of the wedding or coming to the wedding. You don't want to be reminded anymore."
Beal is hopeful her and her fiance will be able to stick to their rescheduled wedding date this go-round. As for other events, like the ones she worked to plan prior to the pandemic, Beal says organizers are prepared for the worst.
"If it happens again, we've been through it once. It's happened. We can make it through again and it will come back even stronger I think because people miss it. I miss going to live shows. If it has to wait, it has to wait. And will I not like it? Of course. But we've been through it once, we'll make it through again."
As Louisiana makes its way through the recent resurgence, officials continue to encourage residents to get vaccinated and wear masks, saying both techniques help to prevent the likelihood of spreading the virus.
Friday at 1:30 p.m. Governor John Bel Edwards will provide an update on how Louisiana is faring in navigating the health crisis.
At that time, the governor's address will be available to view live on WBRZ Plus.
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