RINGLE, Wis. (WFRV) — A three-day mini-fest, originally promoted as the “COVID Herd Immunity Fest,” is set to take place in Wisconsin in July, and it is likely the first music festival to be held in the state since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.
Organizers said attendance at the mini-fest will be limited to 2,500 people — about 20% of what the venue can accommodate — to ensure “anyone has the choice to social distance.”
Organizers did not respond to follow-up questions.
A Facebook post from The Q & Z Expo Center in Ringle described the event as a mini-fest featuring 15 bands between July 16 and 18:
“As humans we NEED other human contact. MUSIC in itself is great, but the live streams as I am sure you all know is just not the same we need LIVE, feel it to the bones, run shivers up your spine MUSIC with people around us…Let’s make it a fun, safe weekend, and let’s be kind to each other. Spread the word by sharing the event and invite your friends.”
However, that post was deleted minutes after exchanging messages with WFRV and a new post was published.
The Q & Z Expo Center said, “The Festival is also not called “Herd Immunity” and the name no longer tied to any of our social media or promotion.”
A Facebook page for one of the bands scheduled to perform, Bobaflex, shared a post in mid-June from The Q & Z Expo Center promoting the band’s “Special Reunion Show” at the “COVID Herd Immunity Fest.”
Another band that had been scheduled for the event, Nonpoint, tweeted that they “dropped off” from the event “because of the way the festival is named.”
The Marathon County Health Department said they were not aware of the mini-fest.
“The health department discourages individuals from attending mass gatherings because of the risk of spreading COVID-19,” said Judy Burrows, with the Health Department. “If people choose to attend any large public event we encourage them to wear cloth face masks, wash hands, or use hand sanitizer and practice social distancing. The health department does not have the authority to prohibit community events.”
WFRV has reached out to other state and local officials for more information on the event, but requests for comment were not immediately answered.
Ringle is a small town comprised of less than 2,000 people in Marathon County, just over an hour’s drive west of Green Bay. As of June 23, just over 120 positive cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the county.
In late May, Rhinelander’s annual Hodag Country Festival was given the go-ahead to be held this summer despite numerous other events being canceled. Days after receiving approval, organizers of the festival decided to postpone the event to 2021, citing the importance of keeping the community safe.