News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Folk Festival planning live music

Staff at Sisters Folk Festival are in the beginning stages of planning to offer some small-scale music events during the summer.

Due to the constraints of COVID-19 regulations, Sisters Folk Festival (SFF) cannot move forward with the 2020 festival. The staff and board of directors of Sisters Folk Festival announced at the end of May the difficult decision to postpone the 24th annual festival — originally scheduled to take place September 11-13 — to September 10-12, 2021.

However, organizers and staff at SFF are in the beginning stages of planning to offer some live music later in the summer.

Executive Director Crista Munro said SFF is working towards an all-day concert in the back lawn at Sisters Art Works on August 1.

“We are working towards a ticketed all-day event on August 1 as a trial run and then again during the weekend dates of the Festival, September 12 and 13,” she said.

For those dates, people would be able to buy tickets for a “rectangle” from up to two to four people per rectangle. People would not be able to mingle with other circles and there would be a cap of 250 tickets sold for the event.

“We are trying to offer an affordable ticket, but we also don’t have the economy of scale, so it might be a more expensive ticket, but it is a very unique opportunity,” said Munro.

The performers for these events would be performers that are local to the state and potentially Northern California and can drive here versus traveling on a plane.

There would be performances spread out throughout the day of music on August 1. And on the weekend in September, if all goes to plan, there would potentially be more than one venue with squares for purchasing and scheduled performances.

Whatever venue patrons purchase tickets for is the venue they would stay at throughout the day and performances will circulate on the stages. Upon buying the tickets, people will have to sign a waiver and verify their identity upon arrival as well as all the names in their circle to provide for contact tracing.

“There are a lot of logistics to figure out in regards to making this as minimal contact as possible,” said Munro.

The team is figuring out the logistics of having food carts and pre-packaged alcohol for purchasing available as well.

With the offerings this year being limited, Munro and the SFF staff decided to let ticket holders for the festival use their tickets next year, instead of trying to have a modified festival.

“We knew it wouldn’t be the same in any way with restrictions and a limited lineup,” said Munro.

So instead, the staff intends to plan for a small outdoor summer music event — which is challenging.

“It is sort of like a whack-a-mole situation, every issue that comes up and we untangle it, more pop up,” Muro said. “It is lots of figuring out how do we still do this while being as safe as possible and following all guidelines.”

The staff has been working closely with the City of Sisters, particularly with Troy Rayburn.

“Troy has been great to work with and the City has been really accommodating and wants us to do this,” said Munro.

The staff will have to dedicate more volunteers to certain jobs, like enforcing mask wearing in non-rectangle spaces and sanitizing services.

The staff will be working closely with the City and health officials to plan these music events and promote them locally. Tickets will be going on sale for the August performances, (all things permitting) in mid-July. And for the September event, tickets will hopefully be put on sale about a month prior.

“We could do all the planning in the world and cross all our t’s and dot all our i’s, but if there are huge outbreaks in the state, we won’t be able to have this and we would fully refund people. But if we can, we will make this happen safely for the community,” said Munro.

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