KIRTLAND, Ohio – With the live music industry on hold for much of 2020 and into early 2021, the Elevation Festivals team was busy planning the WonderStruck Music Festival.
Postponed and then canceled in 2020, the event was set for July 24 and 25, 2021 in the hope that coronavirus vaccines would be underway and pandemic protocols would be lifted in time for the event.
That timing eventually worked, and WonderStruck established itself as one of the first major music events in Northeast Ohio after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted in May. So, face masks won’t be required for festival outfits – and social distancing won’t prevent crowds from gathering outside the stages of Lakeland Community College. And unlike some music festivals around the world, vaccines and negative COVID tests won’t be required for entry.
The global festival scene remains busy, even here in Ohio. Some festivals, like Nelsonville Music Festival and Sonic Temple, have completely canceled their 2021 events due to the pandemic, but others have decided to continue as planned.
Alive Music Festival was held July 15-18 at Atwood State Park without a face mask requirement, but a six-foot social distancing recommendation between the parties. The Country Fest also took place the same weekend, with no masks or social distancing requirements in place. Incarceration is scheduled for Sept. 10-12 in Mansfield, Ohio, with vague security measures outlined on its website.
- 5 things to know before you go to the WonderStruck music festival
WonderStruck – and its sister September music festival in Columbus, WonderBus – is a big part of the 2021 music festival landscape in Ohio. And after a very abnormal year, WonderStruck aims to return to a normal festival before the pandemic, building on its first four years of existence as LaureLive at Laurel School’s Butler Campus, from 2016 to 2019.
Adjusting to ever-changing COVID-19 decisions, turbulent tour schedules and a new location have all created tight deadlines for the Elevation group, said Elevation chairman Denny Young.
âIt’s busy. Not only are we doing 12 months of work in about four months, but we’re also entering a new site for the first time,â Young said. âSo while everything is on schedule, sorted out and ready, it’s a really busy time for all of us at Groupe Elevation. â
FROM LAUREL TO LAC COUNTRY
After separating from Laurel School in 2019, Elevation Group landed its new location for the festival at Lakeland Community College in 2020. The outdoor grounds, near an I-90 exit, provide easier access for drivers and on-site parking, as well as more space for festival crowds. .
âWhere in Laurel we had a long, thin site from south to north when you came in, Lakeland is more of a square site,â Young said. âIt’s not long and thin; it’s basically a big square. We had to reconfigure the way we position the scenes and make sure the lines of sight are good. The site is really comfortable.
It’s comfortable, but big. Lakeland Community College offers 400 acres of space for WonderStruck to use with three stages, a sales area, and food offerings from chef Fabio Salerno of Lago East Bank, who also designed LaureLive’s culinary options in 2019.
When it comes to COVID, attendees can primarily expect additional disinfection measures and a partnership with hand sanitizer company GermX – as well as a Lake County General Health District mobile clinic offering COVID-19 vaccines near the entrance to the festival grounds.
Young estimates that 25,000 attendees will attend the festival over its two days. (Tickets are still available for WonderStruck at wonderstruckfest.com.)
During these two days, 28 artists will perform on three stages, wearing some impressive headliners. On Saturday hit rock groups Walk the Moon and Third Eye Blind headlining, and Grammy-winning pop-rock group Portugal on Sunday. The Man and indie-pop stars AJR will close the festival.
But ahead of those shows, there are plenty of other eye-catching acts to perform on stage, including multi-instrumentalist showtopper Trombone Shorty, âYou Broke Me Firstâ singer Tate McRae and catchy pop artist Dayglow.
It will be the same for many artists in Cleveland.
This year, Northeast Ohio artists make up a big part of the lineup: Detention, The Floorwalkers, The Vindys, Sarah Bailey, Jack Harris, .wavrunner, Jon Caryl, Brent Kirby and Londin Thompson are all set to happen. KennyHoopla, from Cleveland, was also a late addition to the festival lineup, after Noah Cyrus left due to a scheduling conflict.
For Bailey, WonderStruck marks his first big performance. The musician, who was recently selected to work as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s resident rocker, also released her self-produced debut album “13” earlier this year. Bailey will perform at the festival on Saturday.
âIt’s my first real performance, which is crazy to say,â Bailey said. “The first time I sing my own songs with a band that I train with, who have learned all of my songs – this is my first big performance with my own music.”
It’s a big moment for Bailey, especially after last year.
âIt’s so amazing knowing that I’ve been locked up for the past 15 months,â Bailey said. âEverything is happening so fast, and I think people are very anxious to come back and do some live music, to go to shows. I think there is going to be a big comeback in the music industry.
Kirby, who also plays on Saturday, feels the same way.
âAn important part of music and the music experience is the people around you and the people you connect with. To have that kind of connection with an audience and in such an important way as a music festival like this, I think it will be a wonderful experience, âKirby said. âThe main thing is that I feel like I’m part of something special and unique. And I don’t take that for granted, especially after everything that happened last year. Being able to play an event like this is really something that is close to my heart. “
Kirby has performed at the festival once before, when his name was LaureLive. He performed in 2016, the event’s first year, both as a solo artist and with his 10×3 songwriter showcase.
Now he’s playing the festival’s first year as WonderStruck, after receiving a call from Young – whom he considers a close friend.
âI really feel special. I feel honored, âKirby said. “I think it’s really important, and they understand it too, that having local Cleveland bands on the bill is a really important thing to have.”
The Cleveland music community has played an important role in running WonderStruck over the past year. Young said many ticket holders kept their weekend passes from 2019, rolling them over to the 2021 festival. This helped the festival maintain some of its revenue from the canceled event.
Tickets are still available for purchase online, ranging from $ 115 for one-day general admission tickets to $ 499 for weekend VIP passes (with discounts available for children under 10 years).
The excitement for the festival has been palpable, Young said, especially after the lack of live music due to the pandemic.
âPostponing, canceling whatever you want to call it, which took place in 2020, was devastating on so many levelsâ¦ It was mentally, physically and economically devastating. So we’re all thrilled to have the opportunity to present live events once again, âsaid Young. “I think the thirst for live music and entertainment, given that we’ve all been effectively locked up for a year and a half, is at an all time high.”
You can find more information about WonderStruck at wonderstruckfest.com.
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