Litchfield Park residents can now save the date for three special events scheduled this fall.
The City Council voted unanimously during its regular meeting Wednesday, Sept. 16 to authorize Special Events Coordinator Tricia Kramer to proceed with plans for a drive-in movie night and Oktoberfest in October, and the 50th annual Litchfield Park Festival of Arts in November.
Ms. Kramer described each event as “very modified” with strict safety protocols to mitigate COVID-19 safety risks.
Before they voted on the events, Mayor Thomas L. Schoaf polled council members to determine whether they supported going forward.
“How do we want to approach the rest of this period of time that we’ve got COVID risks?” he asked. “Do we just want to stay and not have any activities, or is the council willing to take some risk because it appears to be mitigated in some way that is acceptable?”
Vice Mayor Paul J. Faith, Councilwomen Ann Donahue and Lisa Brainard-Watson, and Councilmen Ron Clair and Tom Rosztoczy all supported moving forward with the events as outlined because the plans structure attendance to limit groups within each venue to fewer than 50, and require attendees to wear face coverings and stay at least six feet away others not in their immediate party.
Each event also will have Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies and Litchfield Park Posse members, or other security, on hand for the safety of guests and to ensure attendees adhere to mitigation requirements.
”From my end, it’s presenting a controlled, awesome picture from our city to say ‘we have this much space, we have these rules, we’d love to have you.’ I think all three of these are outstanding plans,” Ms. Donahue said.
“All the protocols are being followed,” Mr. Clair said. “I see no reason to not do it if people want to go.”
Mr. Rosztoczy agreed, saying, “As long as we’re putting all our precautions in place, if people are nervous they don’t have to go, but I think as long as we’re doing what we can to protect the people who want to go, we’re fine.”
Ms. Brainard-Watson called the events “a great idea,” adding, “people are craving getting out to do something.”
Ms. Kramer said via email Friday, Sept. 18 she was pleased the council approved each event.
"The council members reviewed our plans and recognized the efforts we are taking to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at Litchfield Park’s events. In all cases, we will follow the CDC’s current guidelines for event planning, as well as the recommendations of local health officials," she said. " I am confident that our modified festivals can provide safe and enjoyable experiences for attendees. I am excited for these upcoming events and I believe our community is, too!"
The events include:
“Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” will be screened in the city’s gravel parking lot on the northwest corner of Honeysuckle Street and Old Litchfield Road at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10. Ms. Kramer worked with City Engineer Woody Scoutten and Public Works Director Richard Alvarez to design a layout that will accommodate up to 100 vehicles spaced 8 feet apart. Gates will open at 6 p.m. and all vehicles should be in place 15 minutes before the movie begins.
Guests will be required to stay in their vehicles unless they visit one of four portable restrooms at the site. They will be required to wear masks when going to and from the restrooms.
Food and beverages will not be sold, but attendees may bring snacks and non-alcoholic drinks.
Ms. Kramer estimated the event cost at $4,000, including movie licensing fees; inflatable screen, projector, FM transmitter and related equipment rentals; portable restrooms; marking off parking spaces and traffic flow areas; and signage.
She said Kiwanis of Litchfield Park and Friends of the Rec are willing to co-sponsor a total of $3,000 for the event, with the remainder covered by tickets sales of $10 per vehicle.
Tickets are available at eventbrite.com.
“Unlike in previous years, this event would be an adults-only Oktoberfest,” Ms. Kramer told the council. “Under current COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions, we do believe it’s just too difficult to safely offer children’s activities.”
Oktoberfest is scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17 on the lawn at the Wigwam, with attendance limited to 350 people, 25% of the lawn’s 1,400-person capacity.
Seating will be by reservation only. Tables with seating for two to 10 people will be spaced a minimum of seven feet apart, Ms. Kramer said.
Unlike past years, tickets will be $40 to $50 per person, which will cover admission, entertainment, a meal and a featured German beer in a commemorative glass, she said.
Attendees will use eventbrite.com to purchase tickets and make their party’s meal choices. Ms. Kramer said ticket sales should open next week once event details are finalized.
There will be no dance floor, and attendees will be required to remain at their tables unless they need to visit a restroom inside the Wigwam, or purchase additional drinks at one of two outdoor bars.
Face coverings must be worn to enter the event and any time guests leave their tables, Ms. Kramer said. They will not be required when guests are socializing, eating and drinking at their respective tables.
There will be no table turnover during the evening.
“You come in, and that’s your family or your small group’s seat for the night,” Ms. Kramer said. “You’re there, you relax with your family and friends, enjoy the entertainment, and then you leave at your convenience.”
Food will be served by Wigwam staff in plastic clamshell containers when parties notify their servers they are ready to eat, she said.
This year marks the Festival of Arts 50th anniversary, and Ms. Kramer is working with Candy Vermillion of Vermillion Promotions to coordinate the event or Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 7-8 downtown along Old Litchfield Road and Wigwam Boulevard.
Admission to the event is free, and tickets are not reqiured, Ms. Kramer said.
Unlike past years, there will be no beer and wine garden, and no stage area, according to Ms. Kramer. Musicians will be invited to play, but they will perform within their booths at schedule times. In between performances, they will be allowed to sell their own CDs and accessories, just like other vendors.
The number of booths will be reduced from the usual 250 to 150 to allow increased space between vendors.
In the past, as many as 10,000 people have attended the event over two days, and Ms. Kramer said organizers that size crowd can safely be accommodated.
Kelly O’Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com or 760-963-1697.