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City Approves Permit for Arts Festival Feb. 19-21

Safety Guidelines Convince Commissioners to Allow Large Event

The Lake Wales City Commission Dec. 1 approved its first permit for a large-scale event in 2021 – the 50th annual arts festival the weekend of Feb. 19-21.

Lake Wales Arts Council Executive Director Andrew Allen described safety modifications being made in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Allen said the artists' booths will be configured differently to allow a one-way flow and more green space between them.

Marketing materials will stress the importance of wearing masks and following CDC guidelines, Allen said. While the festival generally draws 2,000 to 4,000 daytime visitors on Saturday and Sunday Allen estimated fewer than 500 would be on-site at any given time.

Deputy Mayor Robin Gibson said the city must balance citizen concerns about health with concerns about shutdowns hurting the economy. He said he supports holding the arts festival "provided it's done safely." Gibson said the arts council "earned the right to do the event" by taking "extraordinary steps to do it safely."

Gibson said he is proud that Lake Wales is one of only two cities in Polk County that have maintained a mask mandate.

Commissioner Al Goldstein, who along with Commissioner Curtis Gibson, opposed the mask mandate said "It's about time we move forward."

The Citizens Bank & Trust Lake Wales Arts Festival will open Friday, Feb. 19 with a kickoff VIP reception at the Lake Wales Arts Center. The annual "Art-B-Q" event will be Saturday night. The outdoor festival on the shores of Lake Wailes will include a 50th anniversary celebration. The VIP area will be expanded and again feature live jazz.

In the permit application, Allen wrote that in addition to extra green space and one-way traffic flow the festival would add facilities for frequent patron hygiene stops.

"The Lake Wales Arts Council is dedicated to providing safe environments for our patrons to enjoy the arts," Allen wrote. "We have had a successful season so far despite COVID-19 due to diligent monitoring and adhering to local, state, federal and CDC guidelines as well as practices within our industry.

"Our constant reviews and adjustments assures our guests that we are stewards of good health and safety."


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