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Though the shadow of COVID has yet to lift, town officials are forecasting a clear summer—both literally and in regards to the pandemic—with Fourth of July fireworks and the popular summer concert series getting a green light.
Always with the caveat that things could change in relatively short order, First Selectman Matt Hoey said he has authorized the town to move forward “in accordance with the governor’s guidance.”
“There will be a fireworks celebration,” Hoey said.
Both the fireworks and summer concerts routinely draw crowds in the hundreds or even around a thousand people, and Parks & Recreation Director Rick Maynard said it wasn’t clear exactly what kind of measures might need to be taken to ensure safely, though mask-wearing and social distancing will certainly be among them.
Several smaller events, including the annual Memorial Day commemorations, and smaller beach concerts are in flux to various degrees, according to town officials.
According to Hoey, there will not be a Memorial Day parade, though smaller ceremonies or events are still possible, and the parade associated with the Guilford Fair will also not be going forward in September “out of an abundance of caution.”
Neither of those events are put on by the town, though they still must be permitted and approved.
The Guilford Art Center’s annual Craft Expo was canceled before new state guidance was released, but even the loosened restrictions won’t see it return this year. Executive Director Maureen Belden said that the center will host some pop-up events starting in May, but that the Craft Expo was simply too big and complex to try to modify.
The biennial Guilford Performing Arts Festival is on for September. The four-day event will run from Sept. 23 to 26 under a tent on the Guilford Green.
Maynard said that the Jacobs Beach concerts, a popular substitute for the larger concerts on the green, which did not take place at all in 2020, were something the town hoped to offer, it would be dependent on budget.
“Part of the problem is these concerts are funded by our programs account, our program fees,” he said. “We had no programs last year or very little. We have to be careful not to do too many extras.”
Hoey expressed optimism that those concerts would still go forward. Maynard added that he personally loved the vibe of music and relaxation right on the waterfront.
“It really was pristine, beautiful. It’s a beautiful setting for it,” he said.
As far as fireworks and the big musical celebrations on the green, Maynard said it was unclear if there will be significant other restrictions on capacity, seating, or spacing. Asking people to remain in their cars for fireworks is something officials don’t think is viable, but he said officials would possibly rope off or sequester certain areas, depending on advice from local health officials.
Saturday, July 10 is the date for the fireworks, Maynard said, with a Sunday, July 11 rain date. The Board of Selectmen must still approve the contract with the fireworks vendor, which Maynard said will hopefully happen next week.
The town has also signed contract acts with eight bands, starting with a Monkees tribute band on July 25 and running every weekend through Aug. 29. Musical acts will focus mostly on ’60s and ’70s American rock music, including Simon & Garfunkel tributes and the Doobie Brothers.
“All these musicians are really, really good,” Maynard said.