A three-day music festival in Stillwater, Oklahoma, kicked off Thursday that has city officials concerned will further the spread of the coronavirus.
The annual Weedstock Festival is expected to attract thousands of people to Stillwater, located about 62 miles west of Tulsa, according to NBC affiliate KJRH. The festival, held at the Tumbleweed Dance Hall, will have three days of live music performances. A recorded message at the Tumbleweed Dance Hall noted “we are committed to following the CDC guidelines” on “social distancing” and “face covers and personal hygiene. Do your part in keeping others and yourself safe.”
Singer Parker McCollum, who was to have been the headliner for Friday’s show, said in a statement Wednesday that he was canceling his performance after testing positive for the coronavirus.
“After realizing this morning that I could not taste or smell anything at breakfast, I went to get tested for COVID and results came back showing I was positive for the virus,” he said in a tweet. “My deepest apologies to the fans and the venues who were counting on me to perform. I absolutely believe that the shows should go on and I wish more than anything I could be there to play them.”
On Wednesday, Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce revised an emergency declaration limiting the number of people who can be inside bars and nightclubs. The guidelines also state that tables and chairs need to be positioned to allow at least 6 feet of space between groups, and dance floors are to remain closed.
Masks must be worn at all times when patrons are not seated. The declaration is in effect until Nov. 30.
In a series of tweets last week, the mayor said that he did not think it was the right time to have a music festival.
“Because it’s outside the city limits, city officials have reached out to @TumbleweedOK management, talked with Payne Co Commissioners, Payne Co Health and others about this event. It is not the right time for thousands of people to gather for a 3-day music festival,” he wrote in a tweet Aug. 10.
Cary McBride, the owner of the Tumbleweed, told the Stillwater News Press, “I told the Chamber (of Commerce), ‘We either put this thing together or we just shut the doors for good.” His venue had already canceled one major music festival this year. The venue told the newspaper that it had hired additional security to keep groups from clustering together.
Mayor Joyce tweeted that the festival, which ends Saturday, could disrupt local schools and universities from in-person teaching, and could put a strain on the hospital and the police department. According to the state Department of Health, there have been 51,746 coronavirus cases and 715 deaths as of Friday. There have been 687 cases in Stillwater.
“On a more personal level, I’m asking people to consider the general welfare of our community and make the responsible and caring decision not to attend this event at this time. I love live music and had a blast at last year’s Calf Fry. But now is not the time,” he said in a separate tweet.