LAKE COUNTY, Calif. — The cities of Clearlake and Lakeport are gearing up for a summer in which officials plan more traditional Lake County events while adhering to health and safety standards developed over the past year.
Leaders of both cities said planning is underway.
There are still unknowns about what many events could look like over the coming summer and fall months.
Indeed, the rules could change more once California fully reopens — which is still on track to take place on June 15 — when the state’s COVID-19 plan for a safer economy should end.
In the city of Clearlake, city leaders said they are making plans for the Independence Day celebration.
Last year, Clearlake held a drive-in 4th of July celebration, but without the parade and festival.
This year, however, the city’s festivities, taking place on Saturday, July 3, will once again include the parade, a vintage car show in Austin Park and a carnival, as well as the evening fireworks display.
They are also planning a concert on Saturday night at the new bandstand in Austin Park, before the fireworks. The groups to play are still being determined, Assistant City Clerk Tina Viramontes said.
Across the lake, the town of Lakeport is preparing for summer events that the pandemic has caused to be canceled in 2020.
Last month, Lakeport City Council directed staff to process requests for summer events in conjunction with Lake County Public Health.
City manager Kevin Ingram said that means summer events canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic could be back on the schedule for 2021.
However, he said some of the events might look a little different with COVID-19 prevention measures in place, including masking, social distancing and using available handwashing stations.
In addition to giving staff the go-ahead to process the events, the Lakeport City Council at its April 20 meeting approved downtown Lake County Farmers’ Finest Tuesdays, which begin this week. at Library Park, and the city’s July 4 celebration, which was canceled in 2020.
Ingram said staff believe many of the summer events Lakeport is known for can still take place if additional changes are adhered to, and are confident they can appropriately consider event requests.
At the same time, Ingram said state guidelines don’t always address the types of events the city hosts, especially large events that are ticketless and held in open spaces.
Ingram said when it comes to enforcing safety measures, the city will rely heavily on event organizers and people doing the right thing.
“It’s really nice to see the light at the end of the tunnel and to think about some of these things that are happening for us,” Councilor Stacey Mattina said.
The 4th of July celebration in Lakeport will return with the big fireworks display, which didn’t happen last year. McClellan’s Pyro Spectaculars North Inc. will provide the show for $21,500, up about $1,000 from the cost of the last show in 2019, the city reported.
In order to ensure enough space in the city center – which in years past had been packed with several thousand people – Ingram said they were considering moving the fireworks barge to Fifth street, north of its usual location, to widen the observation area.
This year they are also banning alcohol sales to ensure people adhere to social distancing and masking, and in an effort to reduce the number of fights that police often have to respond to during the event.
Ingram warned that “it won’t be like the past,” but it’s the start of a return to normal.
At its Tuesday meeting, the board is expected to approve event requests for the Memorial Day Parade on May 29 and the Home Amateur Winemakers WineFest on September 18.
Community groups make decisions about events
As California moves toward reopening, the calendar of event planning and hosting has challenged a return to a more recognizable schedule for some groups of counties.
Last week, the Lake County Fair Board voted to hold the fair this year over Labor Day weekend, as reported by Lake County News. Details for the fair are being worked out over the next few months, but planned changes could include a smaller crowd.
However, for other groups, events have again had to be postponed or canceled for the year due to lack of time to plan or lack of funding.
In early April, the Kelseyville Business Association announced that they would not be holding the June Beer, Wine and Swine Festival or the Kelseyville Pear Festival in September, but they hope to hold their summer street dances and Christmas in the country.
For the association, fundraising – the Pear Festival costs tens of thousands of dollars – and planning for the event should have been underway months earlier, as the pandemic continued to escalate and the situation was unclear as to when the events might again take place.
Last year, the Clearlake Oaks/Glenhaven Business Association was one of the first groups in Lake County to have to cancel a major event when it first postponed and then canceled its famous May Catfish Derby.
However, with the Catfish Derby being the association’s one and only annual fundraiser, last year’s cancellation impacts plans for this year’s events, association president Camille said. Gouldberg.
Goldberg said they are planning the Catfish Derby this month – and they expect a good turnout – but they don’t have the funds to sponsor the Maxine Sherman fireworks display, which will be canceled for a second year.
Dennis Locke, a loyal member of the Catfish Derby team, said they were working hard to organize the derby. It will take place from May 14 to 16.
He said they’ve narrowed things down to fishing and won’t be doing some of the other aspects that usually bring a lot of people together.
“We expected a low turnout because of that. But early bird registrations have actually been higher than usual, so maybe we’ll see something close to normal. People are ready to go out, I guess,” Locke said.