What happened?

For the second year in a row, we made the incredibly difficult decision to cancel our arts and music festival, scheduled for Saturday, July 10th. We were optimistic we’d be able to host the festival this year given the speed of vaccine distribution and how quickly things are improving from a pandemic perspective. However, the guidance we needed months ago to effectively plan only arrived recently.

Life is finally returning to normal. Why are you cancelling now?!

We’re all excited that being able to connect with others in person is becoming a possibility for more and more people. However, events held in city parks, like our festival, must meet the guidelines set by Columbus Public Health in order for permits to be granted by Columbus Recreation and Parks. While our friends at the city have been helpful and ever professional in sharing what they could, formal guidelines for summer events weren’t released until May 6th.

It takes months to plan an event this size in a non-pandemic year, and for a small team of volunteers (with regular jobs, families, and other board and civic responsibilities), this was simply too much of a logistical (and financial) lift two months out from the festival date, even though we take no issue with the requirements themselves.

Here are some of the requirements for events held on city property:

  • Establish and enforce crowd limits
  • Have designated entrances and exits (with some form of temporary perimeter barriers) and one-way traffic flow
  • Enforce social distancing (for potentially thousands of people) **
  • Enforce mask compliance **
  • Perform health screenings for all attendees and participants
  • Collect contact information for all attendees
  • Perform contact tracing in the event of an outbreak

**Didn’t the CDC just advise that masks aren’t needed for outdoor events if you’ve been vaccinated?

Yes, but that doesn’t mean mask compliance and social distancing won’t still be required for events held in city parks, such as our festival. When we made the call to cancel, that announcement hadn’t been made, but again, CDC guidelines defer to local orders, such as those by Columbus Public Health, who provide guidance for events held on city property.

What about the fall? Can’t you reschedule?

Sadly, no. While we certainly hope things will continue to improve and life returns to “normal” as soon as possible, the reality is that hosting a festival takes months of planning. With continued uncertainty about what things will look like in the weeks and months to come from a pandemic perspective, there’s simply no way for us to feasibly plan for so many variables.

Will the Summer Jam West festival return in 2022?

Great question! Yes, go ahead and mark your calendars for Saturday, 07/09/2022. Following a two-year hiatus thanks to COVID-19, we’ll be back and better than ever! We can’t wait to introduce some exciting new features for the 2022 festival; our team has lots of great ideas to make an already wonderful event even better.

What happens now? Do you take several months off?

Nope! We are a year-round arts organization with lots of projects and new ideas we’re working on for the remainder of 2021 and beyond. We just commissioned our seventh major public art installation since 2015 for the Hilltop community, a 60’ x 27’ mural on the side of Third Way Cafe (3058 W. Broad Street).

The mural commission was awarded to the exceptionally talented team of Lucie Shearer, Marcus Billingsley, and Thom Glick. This “Pursuing Good Together” mural will make an excellent addition to the Hilltop’s growing and eclectic portfolio of public art. We can’t wait to see it come to life! You can follow its progress by following us and the artists on social media, and be sure to look for the community dedication event once the mural is complete.

For more details about this year’s mural, head over to Mural 2021.

Have additional questions?

We know people will be disappointed that we’re cancelling. The festival is our favorite day of the year – imagine how we feel! If you have additional questions or feedback, you can send us an email through our contact form.