The County Commission on Wednesday morning approved allowing Friends of the Festival to operate a music series at the Tennessee Riverpark starting this Saturday.
The former Riverfront Nights series of six shows is now branded as the Chattanooga Unite Summer Music Series.
The group had to move after the city of Chattanooga no longer allowed the shows at the usual site - Ross's Landing Park - due to coronavirus concerns.
It is pushing on with the series despite the fact that a number of other outdoor concerts here have been called off, including the Riverbend Festival, Moon River and now Jfest.
Commissioner Chip Baker, former longtime executive director of Friends of the Festival, said a number of steps are being put into place so that the concerts can be held safely.
He said about 2,500 normally attend the shows and that number may be less due to the new venue. He said the Riverpark has a capacity of around 40,000 people.
Safety measures will include a requirement for masks and social distancing. Chalk circles will be drawn for attendees to use.
Mickey McCamish, current director, said he has 18,000 masks available for the event for those who do not bring one.
He said private security would be on hand, as well as county rangers, in case some refuse to act safely.
Mr. McCamish said, “With Hamilton County allowing Friends of the Festival use of the Tennessee Riverpark for Chattanooga Unite, we will safely move forward, closely following the guidance of our Hamilton County Health Department and the Tennessee Pledge, which includes implementing the necessary protocols of social distancing, hand sanitizer stations, face mask offerings at no charge, clean restrooms and volunteers wearing masks. It’s so exciting to do this much-needed healing and uniting event for our community.”
Officials said the series will remain a free concert series but there will be an August date change; the dates are July 11, 18, 25, August 8, 15 and 22.
Officials said, "Chattanooga is in need of a uniting, a healing, an uplifting event that includes a celebration of the resurgence of summer, our community and our local economy after the height of the pandemic and the devastating tornado. Chattanooga Unite programming includes live music, a Heroes Recognition Program, local arts, food trucks, nonprofit participation, and a Kid’s Talent Program."
Beer will be served at the event. Vendors include Love on a Leash therapy dogs, Tennessee American Water Company's VIP area for dogs, the Humane Education Society, Balloon Creations and Face Painting by Deb.
Commissioner Chester Bankston cast the only no vote, though Commissioner David Sharpe said he had concerns about festival goers complying with safety rules. He said in other similar situations "a pretty large contingent refuses to comply and that tends to prevent us from getting back to school and work and it keeps our hospitals filling up."
Here is the schedule: