FREMONT (KPIX 5) – Following last year's pandemic pause, organizers of upcoming festivals in Fremont and San Jose are gearing up amid rising concerns about the Delta variant.
Last year, the San Jose Jazz Summer Fest went virtual and the Fremont Festival of the Arts was canceled all together. This year, they're coming back, but with some changes.
The Fremont Festival of the Arts is one of the largest outdoor festivals west of the Mississippi, relying heavily on all types of vendors to draw a crowd of close to half a million people over two days.
In previous years, the vendors offered everything from jewelry to clothing as well as food, but this year the festival is struggling to get them in.
"The event industry was hit really, really hard, so a lot of people have either moved on to different kinds of jobs or took the opportunity to retire," said Cindy Bonior of the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, which heads up the festival.
"One sad thing is we won't have margaritas this year, unfortunately, because the vendor is no longer in business," Bonior told KPIX 5.
Despite the fact there will be fewer vendors, organizers say the festival itself will be spreading out - allowing more space between the booths for social distancing.
"I think that people will have the feeling of being safe at our festival," says Bonior.
The San Jose Jazz Summer Fest is changing its footprint as well.
"We have been emphasizing our outdoor programming, so we have a little bit less indoor stage offerings this year," says Brendan Rawson, the jazz festival's executive director.
Besides moving the indoor stages outdoors to allow for greater social distancing, fans might also notice fewer acts in attendance. Live performers are in particular demand as venues across the country relax pandemic restrictions.
"That part of lining all the artists up was the particular challenge for us," said Rawson.
Festival organizers said they're working with local health departments as COVID cases in the Bay Area are increasing due to the Delta variant.
Organizers said they hope that by having the events outdoors, they'll be allowed to continue as planned, so long as it's safe.
The San Jose Jazz Summer Fest takes place August 13-15, while the Fremont Festival of the Arts is scheduled for the last weekend in September.
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