Early in 2020, we were shocked and stunned when it was suggested that we stay inside our own homes and shut down businesses except for essential services.
It is early 2021 and though it has been months since we had the stay-home orders, some things are beginning to feel familiar.
Our state hosts more than 400 festivals annually. They are an important part of our culture. We have not finished the first month of the year and we have already heard that some of our favorite events have been postponed.
The 2021 French Quarter Festival was scheduled for April 8-11. Now, it will be held Sept. 30 through Oct. 3. The 2021 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival was officially postponed from its usual April-May weekends to Oct. 8-17. While there is some question whether the second festival weekend will be three or four days, the idea of a fall jazz fest would have been unthinkable not long ago.
It is affecting festivals and celebrations throughout the state: In Scott, in Lafayette Parish, the Boudin Festival has been postponed from April to Sept. 24-26.
Even with fall events, the coronavirus is likely to have an impact, meaning scaling back and putting health and safety guidelines in place.
“We’re going to remain flexible and continue to work in tandem with our community leaders and make sure that we have an event that keeps in mind social distancing and masking and some things that still may be required,” Emily Madero, of the French Quarter Festival, told WWL-TV. “We want to make sure that people can spread out and feel safe, and we are looking into potentially reducing our footprint slightly.”
“We are all ready to get together again and share that special spirit that lives at Jazz Fest,” producer/director Quint Davis said in a statement. “Your health, along with the health of our musicians, food and crafts vendors, and all of the folks that work to make the magic happen, remains the priority as we plan the return of Jazz Fest.”
Scott officials said the decision was "for the health and safety of all festival and city guests, volunteers, vendors, and staff.”
Fortunately, more people in Louisiana are getting virus vaccines, protecting more citizens from the ravages of the coronavirus and getting us closer to the community immunity we need to help us get beyond this horrible stretch. Unfortunately, since late November our new COVID-19 cases and the number of deaths have been increasing because the virus is extremely contagious and not enough people are doing the basics to limit community spread.
We cannot have it both ways. We cannot flaunt legitimate public health emergency guidelines and return to our normal diet of spring, summer and fall festivals, entertainment and fun.