MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Outdoor music venues are preparing to welcome guests after the state lifted all capacity limits for outdoor gatherings Tuesday.
The Johnson Pavilion at Heritage Landing in Muskegon is the largest outdoor event venue within the city limits. Last year, most of the events planned for the venue were canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“This venue is the festival grounds for Muskegon County. All of the large festivals happen here and they’ve been happening here for many years,” Bob Lukens with Visit Muskegon said.
Lukens said the venue can hold up to 15,000 people and has hosted the likes of Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Guess Who and Earth, Wind and Fire. No large names were able to come in 2020, but the city hopes to see the venue fill up again with festivals planned for later this year.
“Unity (Christian Music) Festival is the large festival that will be here this year. And typically there are a few others but with the uncertainty earlier in the year, those festivals decided to cancel,” Lukens said. “But we do have Unity and we’re planning ahead for next year already.”
Lukens said there are also some small music events and festivals planned for local parks and in the downtown Muskegon area.
But he said that even with the change to the mask mandate — no one has to wear one outdoors — it might be a little difficult to bring big name artists or put on major festivals this summer.
In Grand Rapids Charter Township, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park would normally be kicking off its Summer Concert Series now. A spokesperson for the Gardens says management was waiting to see what would happen with state restrictions before finalizing the artist lineup. Organizers hope to announce the lineup in about two weeks and the concert series will start in July, when broad COVID-19 restriction orders are lifted.
Studio Park C in downtown Grand Rapids is also hosting a summer concert series. The theater says last summer, it was only allowed to have 100 people in its outdoor space. This year began with capacity limits of 152 people. Studio Park says while the change to restrictions would allow it to have about 400 people now, it will continue operating under smaller capacity limits of 152 people. It says it wants to make sure it can ensure good service and that customers feel safe.
Bob Lukens with Visit Muskegon said he expects bigger crowds this summer for events that do proceed.
“I think now with the capacity limits lifted, I think there will be an effort to get as many people in here because I know there’s pent up demand,” Lukens said.