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Summer concerts return: Northland outdoor venues prepare for festival season

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DULUTH, MN -- Nothing says summer in the Northland quite like outdoor concerts.

Unlike last year, event venues are busy preparing for a booked 2021 festival season.

Bayfront Festival Park Director Jeff Stark said the new year is promising.

"When we looked at this season we were cautiously optimistic, and I think that optimism is going to shine through and people are going to come down here and have a good time in a safe environment," Stark said.

For the 2021 season, Bayfront in Duluth already has 34 event days booked.

For comparison, at their peak in 2019, they hosted more than 40 events.

After a year of cancelations and financial devastation, this is progress for the park.

Event leaders plan on serving food and drinks responsibly and are optimistic about people having a good time.

"Party in the Park with Hairball, the Fourth July the following weekend, and a number of other concerts throughout the month of July, August, and September," Stark said.

Last year was financially devastating for the DECC, which lost $5.6 million in revenue, according to DECC Interim Executive Director Roger Reinert.

The summer of 2021 gives Reinert hope for a financial recovery.

"And what did we learn last year? Outdoor things are good," he said. "So a robust season at Bayfront Park is going to be a good start to that process."

Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua in Bayfield, Wisconsin, is hoping to have operations at 30% in 2021.

Big Top Chautauqua Operations Manager Phillip Anich said their lineup includes changes to how they seat people and do ticketing.

"We're just trying to make sure that our Ts are crossed and our Is are dotted so we can make this a safe and wonderful summer again," Anich said.

While it will not look exactly like it did in years past, event venues across the Northland are doing what they can to offer a safe and vibing music festival experience.

"All of those things will contribute to a safe environment where we have people down here, but we're looking forward to that sun coming up, the boats sailing behind us, and music emanating from the park," Stark said.

Click here for the Bayfront Festival Park event schedule.

Click here for the Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua event schedule.

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Kendall Jarboe

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