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Riverfest and other events pencil out the possibilities in 2021

Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 5:34 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Over the years it’s been the downtown festival Riverfest that has kicked off the special events season here in Northern Nevada.

It along with other in-person events were cancelled last year because of COVID.

This year finds organizers penciling out ways they can conduct the event in light of regulations and guidelines set down by the City of Reno.

“It just depends,” says Jess Horning, co-founder of Liquid Blue which organizes Riverfest. “May 1st, is the deadline for some of the decisions to be transferred over to the city and county. So, we don’t know what to expect at this time. But we are working on the guidelines that were set out by the state last week,” he says.

Horning says there is nothing set in stone at this time. Not from his organization as they are working on what is feasible.

And the guidelines are a moving target as well. That’s because what state and local government know now, could change in a matter of months when it comes to COVID, crowds, and what is safe.

For now, we understand, crowds will be much smaller than in the past; not just for Riverfest but for other local events later in the year. Free events like Riverfest though will have to charge a fee this year.

“There has to be some sort of, process to limit the number of people to come in,” says Horning. “Some sort of checks and balance system. Also, the funding that is normally there with the city or even the tourism department, especially in the year that we have had, does not exist. So, we have to find a way to pay for the park, the facilities, RPD, the security that is there; and the additional expenses to have a safe event,” he says.

Current guidelines require one entry and exit point for the public events. Temperatures may need to be taken at the front entrance. Some events may have to enclose their festival with fencing. All which have many event planners questioning if the event is even economically viable like this year.

Riverfest organizers know the regulations they face today will not be the same regulations they see when Riverfest gets underway. And those regulations may change over the summer and into the early fall—impacting events like the Reno Balloon Races or the Reno Air Races.

But Riverfest organizers say they understand they will be the first to be under the scrutiny of the City of Reno, and they have to get it right.

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