Peacemaker goes forward, with COVID-19 rules
Peacemaker Festival is once again underway, but this time with COVID-19 restrictions.
Held Friday and Saturday evenings at the Riverfront Amphitheater in Fort Smith, Peacemaker features live performances from Casey Donahew Band, Read Southall Band, Paul Cauthen, Kody West and others. Organizers have made a list of more than 25 rules including grids for crowd members to ensure social distancing, sanitizing and mask wearing as best they can.
A crowd size estimate has not yet been obtained, but the entire amphitheater was packed on Friday night with crowd members. And despite people throughout the night breaking the rules at the festival — including walking around without masks and not socially distancing in their grids — crowd members on Friday told the Times Record they generally felt safe at the show.
Distanced six feet apart, the grids are marked off on the amphitheater lawn and permit groups and families to sit amongst themselves inside them. The crowd is also kept at reduced capacity, according to a festival news release.
Groups and families may remove their masks inside their grid, according to a press release.
Outside the grids, crowd members must wear masks while they are moving throughout the park. They are not allowed in or out of the park if they are not wearing masks, the release states. The festival enforces masks to anyone entering, exiting and moving throughout the park.
“While the masks are not the greatest thing — no one likes them, of course — it’s not horribly inconvenient to want to sit by yourself anyway for an hour total throughout the night,” said Jonathan Bennett of Fort Smith, who on Friday waited in line outside the amphitheater with Amanda Scyrkels of Cameron.
Organizers in the news release warned that social distancing “may not always be possible” at the festival. But they’re also taking steps like putting markings out for social distancing and marking off entrance, exit, purchase and restroom lines.
Hand sanitizer is dispensed outside all portable restrooms at the show. The restrooms will be cleaned throughout the festival every 30 minutes.
Performers will all maintain a distance of at least 12 feet from the audience.
“(The) festival will stop the show if people are crowding around the barricades and a message will come from the stage for everyone to return to their seats for the show to continue,” the release states.
Peacemaker organizers are following all guidelines outlined by the Arkansas Department of Health for “Large Outdoor Venues” in the Phase 2 directive, the release states.
Despite the strict precautions, Bennett said the festival was “a break from everything that is happening.”
“You’re doing something a little bit different. Your mind is off it, and you’re maintaining any safety precautions you have to have,” he said.