File / The Outlook

This year's 30th Annual Jazz Fest will be postponed until Aug. 7-8.

The Alexander City Jazz Fest originally scheduled for June has been postponed to Aug. 7-8 due to social distancing concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jazz Fest is one of Alabama’s longest-standing free music festivals and this year marks its 30th anniversary.

“Our primary concern for rescheduling is the health, safety and level of comfort of the performers, volunteers and attendees of Jazz Fest,” Alexander City Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Ed Collari said. “We felt like hosting an event of this magnitude in early June was too soon given the current regulations. We will continue to monitor the situation and evaluate any additional changes that need to be made to ensure the safety of everyone involved.” 

Following traditional protocol, the Friday night show Aug. 7 will be held in Strand Park in downtown Alexander City, followed by the Saturday show at The Amp on Lake Martin. Live music on both nights is currently scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. and is presented by Russell Lands On Lake Martin.

“We feel like this is one of Alexander City’s signature events and hosting it on an annual basis is part of the fabric of our community,” Collari said. “Considering this is the 30th year of Jazz Fest, we felt rescheduling was a more appropriate option at this time than canceling the event. With the continued support of our sponsors, the City of Alexander City, Russell Lands On Lake Martin and all the fans that join us each night for free live music, we look forward to another tremendous Jazz Fest weekend in August.”

An announcement regarding the music lineup will be made in the near future.

“We had a lineup for Friday pretty much penciled in; they hadn’t signed contracts yet but made verbal agreements,” Collari said. “We’ve reached back out to those three to see if they have availability for the new dates. We’ve heard from one and waiting to hear back from two.”

Some bands the Jazz Fest committee reached out to for the original Saturday date weren’t available then but Collari hopes they may be available in August as the lineup is in the works.

“Hopefully by pushing it off two months, we’ll have a better grasp as to where we are from recovering from COVID-19,” Collari said. “If things are still in a precarious position or there’s a rebound, we will evaluate at the time to see if it’s worth hosting at all.”

The August date was chosen to avoid fall football Saturdays and also to give some time between Jazz Fest and Russell Lands On Lake Martin’s Labor Day concert at The Amp.

“We wanted to make sure we gave enough time to allow the grass to recover and have that distance between two pretty signature events,” Collari said.

SunFest will commence right before Jazz Fest weekend as usual, kicking off July 31 with Friday on the Green followed by Tykes ’n Trucks the next day.

“We’re just now in the process of going through each of those (SunFest) events to see in this new day and age what is feasible and what is safe,” Collari said.

For example, a visit to the area nursing homes will likely not be scheduled and close contact events such as slip ‘n’ slides and the pool outing will have to be considered as time gets closer.

The annual Jazz Fest T-shirt art contest has not yet been voted on and the design will be released as soon as it is.

Jazz Fest remains free to the public and Collari said people will have to make their own decisions on whether to attend based on their comfort levels. He also added the Jazz Fest committee is looking into providing sanitation and masks for anyone who comes out and needs that added comfort.

“Both locations, Strand Park and The Amp, are outdoor venues, very spacious so folks can social distance as they need,” he said. “If there is concern and folks don’t want to come out, then they don’t have to. People can make their own decisions on what they feel is best for them.”