DAPHNE – Jubilee Festival organizers are moving forward with plans for the September celebration, but in a new location to accommodate social distancing and other COVID-19 precautions.
The Daphne City Council voted Aug. 17 to move the Jubilee Festival from downtown Daphne to W.O. Lott Park. The festival, which is put on by the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce, is scheduled for Sept. 25 through 27.
Casey Williams, chamber president, said the organizers are laying out plans for the event in the new location.
“We are working on our new map and where they actual booths is going to be placed,” Williams said Friday. “We are working on where we will have the actual hand sanitizing stations and things of that nature. Now it’s more about executing the change than just about anything else.”
Mayor Dane Haygood said the city will continue to monitor the spread of the coronavirus in the area and will change or cancel the event if necessary.
“I’m hopeful that the counts will still be low and we won’t have another spike following the reopening of school, but we just need an opportunity to reassess and make sure that the environment is conducive to this type of activity being held in the city,” Haygood said.
Council President Robin LeJeune said the council will discuss plans for the festival at its first meeting in September and make a final decision. That meeting is scheduled Sept. 8.
“We don’t want to be too early to make a decision, but we don’t want to wait,” LeJeune said.
Haygood said the city wants to support the event if officials feel that the gathering can be held in a safe manner.
“The Eastern Shore chamber’s done a fantastic job trying to relocate and spread things out,” Haygood said. “I do think we need to stay aware of what’s happening within the state and the local community as well. We had that conversation and Ms. Williams has referred to the chamber and indicated they wanted to move forward.”
Williams said organizers are also monitoring COVID-19.
“We’re looking at this every day,” Williams said. “Every single day we are looking at what the environment is. Where are we with COVID? We’re literally every day, we’re accessing where we are and what we need to do. This is not something that we’re just throwing out there, but it is to support our merchants in downtown Daphne and on the Eastern Shore. This is meant to be something to boost our economy across the Eastern Shore.”
She said Lott Park will allow the festival to be spread out across a larger area to allow more room for social distancing. The area on Main Street where the festival was held before allowed about 15 feet between the front of the booths. At Lott Park, that walkway will be about 25 feet. Artists booths will also be space with about 10 feet between the sides of the exhibits.
She said a full range of food vendors plan to take part in the event. About 10 participants in the Jubilee Market will also be taking part and more than 80 artists have committed to being at the festival.
“We’re really trying to get the word out that we’re aware and we’re doing everything we can for those who feel comfortable to be able to come out and do something that we haven’t been able to do in a while,” she said.