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Summer of Adaptibility

Officials Build in Flexibility When Planning Regional Events

“Many of our area organizations have told us they are making plans, but it is difficult to say exactly what will be coming back and in what form because there are so many variables,” Meghan Martin, executive director of the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, said in mid-spring. “Some organizers have confirmed that they are doing socially distanced events, but other annual favorites like Be A Tourist In Your Own Town have decided it best to cancel.

“No festivals that we are aware of have made decisions to permanently cancel; but we are in new times, and there could be many festivals that change their direction or create something new,” she added. “We know we will see some long-term ramifications from the last year, but what we have experienced so far is people getting very creative and finding new ways to do what they love and respond to the community’s needs.”

The return of some semblance of summer normality is desperately needed by a mid-Michigan tourism and leisure industry that generated far less economic impact than its usual $600 million in a quarantine-wracked 2020. But what will be happening may have new rules, specific restrictions, and even different dates and locations.

Not only should sudden changes be expected, so should sudden events.

“The community should be on the lookout for impromptu events around the region and be prepared for possible last-minute changes,” said Martin.

Person at a shopSo planning ahead, assuming nothing, and keeping masks and hand sanitizer handy will be key.

“Be flexible,” said Tracy Padot, vice president of marketing communications for the Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau. “I think you’ll see things pop up with maybe a little bit more short notice than what people are accustomed to.”

Among changes from the usual will be the East Lansing Art Festival taking place in early August, well after its usual May time frame. Plus, visitors should expect other alterations, like fewer artists, no huge children’s tent, only one performance stage and a tent setup that encourages one-way foot traffic, city officials said.

“We are hoping that none of the things we’ve removed from this year’s footprint are permanent removals. We’re just trying to space things out a little more this year,” said Heather Majano, East Lansing’s art festival and art initiatives coordinator. “Our goal is to also have the 2022 festival back in May, where it belongs” as a kickoff to the summer season.

“We are pleased to announce the return of the Summer Concert Series, to take place in downtown East Lansing on select Fridays in July and August,” said Justin Drwencke, community events and park stewardship specialist for East Lansing.

Plans are also being developed for a return of the Moonlight Film Festival.

“Remember that things are constantly changing, and organizers are doing their best to accommodate their audiences despite lots of challenges,” said Martin.

While it was too much to ask quarantine-battered businesses to host a one-day influx of free guests for Be A Tourist In Your Own Town, area tourism officials plan to use their marketing prowess to “really encourage our residents to get out and still go to those attractions,” Padot said. “They need our support.”

For a list of things you can do in the area, visit lansing.org/things-to-do/love-lansing-outdoor-activities.

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