GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Many Grand Rapids events have been modified or postponed this year. That's as the pandemic continues, but hope is in sight as vaccinations continue.
Gilda's Club LaughFest will continue this year from March 11-14. However, the majority of the event will move online, with virtual performances. About 30 events over that four-day festival will be LaughFest's website. There is also a Premium Pass to access premium content shows, like the national acts.
This year, LaughFest is organizing an outdoor scavenger hunt. The goal is to go around downtown and complete different missions with the family. Organizers call it a safe, distanced and masked way the whole family can have fun.
"We need something to laugh about," said Joanne Roehm, the director of LaughFest, "We know that's a key piece of good emotional health. At Gilda's Club, we know that with our work with people living with cancer and grief. I don't know that there's been a time that we've needed Gilda's LaughFest more than we do in 2021, in this crazy time that we are living in. So, it was important that we did our best to bring smiles and laughter to the broader community."
Amway River Bank Run:
The River Bank Run was originally scheduled for May 8, but this year it is postponed to October 23.
Organizers consulted with local health professionals, including their partner Spectrum Health, and decided moving it to October would give it a better chance to preserve many of the exciting aspects of the event.
It's the largest sporting event in Downtown Grand Rapids every year, and organizers hope the extra time gives people more time to train.
"Actually, we're thinking that our numbers may be up, just because a number of people have been spending a lot of time through the COVID getting into exercise," said David Madiol, the race director, "So, maybe the River Bank Run is something for that."
Participants that registered for the May 8 date will automatically be confirmed for October.
Festival of the Arts:
This year, the annual show will take place from June 4-6. This year, PLEIN AIR by Festival of the Arts will include musicians and landscape artists performing throughout downtown. Social distancing and mask wearing will still be done in precaution.
Then, on September 17-19, the Calder Plaza performance stage and artisan village will be rescheduled. It will also line up with the first weekend of ArtPrize.
"We want to be defined by how we respond to things," said David Abbott, the executive director of the festival, "And the arts is a very large part of the West Michigan culture. And so, if the arts are still present through all of this, that's how we choose to be defined."
Applications for artists are open the first week of March.
MSU Gran Fondo:
The ride and events raises money for skin cancer research. So far, about $1.2 million has been raised from the event in Grand Rapids over the past 8 years.
Riders who registered last year for the ride, which was cancelled, will have their registration roll over for the fall event. Registration will open sometime in mid-April.
"If you ever have ever experienced the MSU Gran Fondo, it's all about food, both on the course and in the finish line festival afterward, food and beer," said Jerry Kooiman, the Assistant Dean and Chief External Relations Officer for the MSU College of Human Medicine, "And so, while we're going to still plan on doing those things, they may be at a different scale. We may have to reduce the number of participants somewhat, depending on where we are with COVID at that time."
Frederik Meijer Gardens Concert Series:
The team at Meijer Gardens are working behind the scenes to plan a safe return to live music as soon as possible. Organizers released this statement on their plans for 2021:
We are hoping to present both our Fifth Third Bank Summer Concert Series as well as the Tuesday Evening Music Club as soon as large gatherings are safe. The safety and wellbeing of our guests is our top priority and we continue to work with bands as well as local, regional and national resources to be able to present live music in the Frederik Meijer Gardens Amphitheater as soon as possible.
RELATED VIDEO: LaughFest announces 2021 plans
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