"The way it's going right now, most all of the major events in June are being cancelled or postponed," noted festival director Drew Spanding of actions to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.
"We were blessed to have the last weekend of the summer still open here (Otsego County Fairgrounds in Gaylord), giving us the flexibility to move the dates," said Spanding.
Resetting the festival now allows officials time to properly "ramp up" preparations aimed at the holiday weekend. As of mid April, Spanding reported that infrastructure such as staging, tents, camping space, portable restrooms, generators, and available vendors – all have fallen into place.
And he'll be keeping an eye on the hoped-for loosening of state-mandated restrictions which should be coming as the spring rolls into summer.
The virus has plagued numerous music and other large scale events this spring and summer, and it caused the cancellation of the Traverse City's National Cherry Festival in July.
Tickets originally purchased for the June 24-27 BTF will be honored for the new Sept. 4-6 dates. Otherwise, Ticketholders can use them for next year's festival. (More info at the Big Ticket website www.bigticketfestival.com).
TO BE REVEALED
The next hurdle is the music artist line-up. Headliners for the original dates included Newsboys, Danny Gokey, Mandisa and Rebecca St. James. And there were dozens of other artists and presenters secured for the original June schedule.
"We hope to have the first wave of artist announcements in a couple of weeks," he added. "We just won't know until we get all the talking done and that takes longer than making sure we have enough staging, for example."
Several regional and area artists also are part of the Big Ticket musical fare.
One of the added attractions this year is a chance to kick a field goal with retired Detroit Lions kicker Jason Hanson.
"He came to the festival last year: he's a big Christian music fan," Spanding said.
Hanson is returning in 2020 with an (inflatable) crossbar and uprights; and he'll give kicking pointers to those interested in giving it a try.
Hanson will also be part of the Big Ticket golf outing Sept. 5 at the Par 3 course at nearby Treetops Resort.
Youth-oriented activities on the festival grounds will also be back for new 2020 dates.
"Whatever happens it will be a great event ...a mission-driven festival celebrating God and that's what we want to see maintained," Spanding said.
UNITY STILL ON COURSE
Meanwhile, everything is go for this year's Unity Christian Music Festival in Muskegon, set for Aug. 5-8.
"We're going as planned," said director Kevin Newton of Alive On The Lakeshore, the non-profit organization which oversees the annual event at Heritage Landing.
Officials are closely monitoring state-imposed limits on gathering-size and other considerations which would prevent it from going forward. "Our point of decision should be mid to late June, so we'll see how things shake out and how fast restrictions are eased," Newton said.
He said ticket sales are strong for this year, Unity's 20th anniversary. Headline artists include TobyMac, Chris Tomlin, Matthew West, and For King & Country (www.unitymusicfestival.com).
Plans for other summer inspirational music spots:
*The Worship on the Waterfront (WOW) series Sunday nights in downtown Grand Haven is scheduled to begin June 21 with singer-songwriter-worship leader Cory Asbury. "We are moving ahead in faith," said series organizer Kathleen Bobeldyk. "We will abide by government guidelines to keep everyone safe. We are working on several options if we have to change WOW's format, but our Sunday night concert events will happen." Skip-the-line passes for the free-will-offering concerts go on sale April 25 via www.itickets.com.
*Sandy Pines Lakeside Chapel in the Sandy Pines Campgrounds near Dorr usually starts its inspirational concerts the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. At press time officials were still waiting to see when the grounds would be opened to the public.
*The Christian Reformed Conference Grounds south of Grand Haven also begins its summer concert series Memorial Day weekend. Camping is closed until May 15, but music director Dawn Bouman is hopeful the music can begin on schedule.