• Summer event planners in Rhode Island ask state for guidance

    Summer event planners in Rhode Island ask state for guidance

    As some Rhode Island event planners work to setup large-scale events in the state in the summer of 2021, they are calling on leaders to give guidance.
    In the meantime, some groups are planning the traditional festivities with flexibility for rollbacks.
    Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Erin Donovan-Boyle said last year rules were being created with only weeks and months to make changes.
    "Now that we are one year into the pandemic, we need some more predictability," said Donovan-Boyle.
    She said at the minimum planners and coordinators need 90 days for lead time.
    Donovan-Boyle said many event organizers have submitted tentative plans to the state for approval.
    "It may look different and there are safety procedures put into place to ensure the protection of participants, employees and consumers, but it's all hindering on will we be able to do it at this point," explained Donovan-Boyle. "And our call from Restore Greater Newport is those decisions need to be made now."
    In South County, Wickford Art Festival Director Ainslie Daly said Wednesday they are moving forward with the July festival in a new location.
    "In Wilson park, we'll be able to conform with any guidelines that will still exist come summer and be flexible with that," explained. "So, we'll be able to still keep track of everyone that's coming in, spread out booths."
    While Bristol's annual Fourth of July celebrations were downscaled dramatically in 2020, they are planning a full celebration for 2021.
    Bristol Fourth of July Committee General Chairman Michele Martins said they have more than 100 volunteers who are putting in the time to plan for a mostly traditional celebration while they wait on guidance.
    "We're willing to put the effort in to plan a full celebration and to adjust as needed," explained Martins.
    Martins said she is remaining optimistic but understands concerns from some people.
    "There is some hesitation. Some people are still nervous." said Martins. "We're being sensitive to everyone's feelings, but we are just going along, planning everything."
    The pandemic has hurt fundraising efforts for the celebration, however, which would have typically happened on a monthly basis.
    Martins said they are actively looking for sponsors for this year.
    In Newport, Donovan-Boyle said guidance from the state will help with marketing the area to the public so they can have confidence in events they want to attend.
    The Chamber of Commerce is part of a Restore Greater Newport Initiative and task force that is looking at the region’s economy as a whole to help.
    "Certainly, events and weddings and the summer season, related to hospitality and tourism are a top priority for us because they have been the hardest hit with the onset of the pandemic," explained Donovan-Boyle.
    The group is also working to help bring jobs back for people who lost jobs due to the changing economy.
     
     

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