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Back to Normal? The Return Of N.H. Summer Festivals

Party like it’s 2019. It's almost looking like a normal summer weekend in New Hampshire, with in-person festivals cropping up across the state. 

With vaccinations up and COVID-19 cases down, rules and regulations for events like festivals are more relaxed. But not everyone is ready to take their masks off.

Courtney Perkins, executive director of the Prescott Park Arts Festival, says she and her team have worked with Portsmouth officials to put together a COVID-19 safety plan for the events this summer. Festival-goers won’t be required to wear masks if they’re vaccinated, but social distancing and mask wearing is recommended for those who aren't.

“People are in a space of  ‘self regulation,’” Perkins says. “So in large groups if they feel like they want to wear a mask, or they’re not vaccinated, they will wear a mask or they won't sit as close as they have in the past.”

After being canceled last year because of the pandemic, festival organizers are excited to welcome visitors back. Opening night for its live musical will happen on Friday.

Other festivals are adopting similar policies to help people stay safe.

At the Cocheco Arts Festival in Dover, festival-goers can crowd the lawn of Henry Law Park for a live concert or movie

Morgan Faustino, community events manager for the Dover Chamber of Commerce, agrees that holding festivals in the way they used to happen will take some adjustment. 

“It’s a sort of weird time right now where we’re transitioning back to in-person, and not everyone’s fully comfortable right now,” Faustino says. “We’re just encouraging people to make their best judgement.”

He says the festival committee consulted with Dover officials to put together advice for social distancing and masking at the events. After a year and a half of the pandemic, people are encouraged to follow what regulations make them feel comfortable. 

Other festivals in the state over the weekend include the Swim With A Mission Festival in Manchester, featuring military and K-9 demonstrations, and the American Independence Festival in Exeter, which will feature reenactment groups and live music. 

Looking for more activities in N.H. this weekend? We’ve got you covered with our weekly top 10 list.

Samantha Coetzee joined the NHPR team in 2020 as a weekend Board Operator and is now NHPR’s News Intern. A senior journalism major at the University of New Hampshire and New Hampshire native, Samantha is also the General Manager of WUNH, UNH’s student-run radio station.

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