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Adams Avenue Street Fair cancels due to Delta variant concerns, while Live Nation announces new health rules

The Adams Avenue Street Fair on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019
The Adams Avenue Street Fair, whose 2019 edition is shown above, has been canceled for the second consecutive year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Photo by Jared Gase)

December Nights in Balboa Park has announced it will repeat its 2020 drive-through format this year, while concert powerhouses Live Nation and AEG are introducing new health protocols

In what may be the most high-profile example yet of live arts event producers in San Diego reacting to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant, the Adams Avenue Street Fair announced on Monday the cancellation of next month’s 40th anniversary edition of the free annual event.

It was scheduled to take place Sept. 18 and 19 in Normal Heights, with more than 80 music acts set to perform on seven indoor and outdoor stages.

The decision was prompted by health concerns and the recent withdrawal of a “substantial number” of the event’s vendors and exhibitors, with 40 withdrawing in the past 10 days alone.

Late last week, December Nights — San Diego’s annual holiday celebration in Balboa Park — announced that, “out of an abundance of caution,” plans are now underway to repeat last year’s COVID-fueled drive-through format and to expand that format.

Both announcements came as the world’s largest concert producer, Live Nation, announced Monday that — as of Oct. 4 — all artists and fans will be required to show proof of COVID vaccination or a negative COVID test (where permitted by law) before attending events at fully owned and operated Live Nation venues and festivals in the U.S. The company owns and operates the nearly 20,000-capacity North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre in Chula Vista and downtown’s 1,000-capacity House of Blues.

This marks the second consecutive year the Adams Avenue Street Fair has fallen through because of the pandemic. The event is produced by the nonprofit Adams Avenue Business Association, which on July 25 held its sold-out 20th annual Taste of Adams Avenue food fair just before the Delta variant began to spike locally.

“A month ago, before Delta hit, we were 100 percent sure we were going forward with our Street Fair,” Adams Avenue Business Association Executive Director Scott Kessler told the Union-Tribune Monday afternoon.

“We had an emergency board meeting this morning and, while we would have lost $60,000 on the event, it was really our concern over public safety that guided our decision. We don’t know where we’ll be in a month, health-wise, and we can’t cancel our event a week before it’s supposed to take place.

“Our inability to guarantee a safe event led to our decision. Holding a big, open street fair like ours — without gates and without checking people’s vaccination status — wouldn’t work. And the state or county could come up with new rules in the next two weeks that we wouldn’t be able to follow. There are so many uncertainties.”

The business association is now planning a belated 40th anniversary edition for 2022. In a statement released Monday, the association encouraged “all San Diegans to get vaccinated so that we can protect one another and enjoy our San Diego way of life.”

Live Nation’s Monday announcement extended beyond concertgoers and festival attendees at its events. As of Oct. 4, the company said, all of its employees will need to be fully vaccinated in order to work at or visit any of the company’s events, venues or offices.

Live Nation’s new health protocols follow last week’s announcement by fellow concert industry powerhouse AEG Presents that — no later than Oct. 1 — AEG will require full vaccination at all of its concerts and festivals, including Coachella and Stagecoach in Indio, with negative testing not being an option.

“We have come to the conclusion that, as a market leader, it was up to us to take a real stand on vaccination status,” Jay Marciano, COO of AEG and Chairman and CEO, AEG Presents, said in an Aug. 12 statement.

“Just a few weeks ago, we were optimistic about where our business, and country, were heading. The Delta variant, combined with vaccine hesitancy, is pushing us in the wrong direction again. We realize that some people might look at this as a dramatic step, but it’s the right one. We also are aware that there might be some initial pushback, but I’m confident and hopeful that, at the end of the day, we will be on the right side of history and doing what’s best for artists, fans, and live event workers.

“Our hope is that our proactive stance encourages people to do the right thing and get vaccinated. ... I think everyone can agree that we don’t want concerts to go away again, and this is the best way to keep that from happening.”


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