State rules put the kibosh on summer concerts, for now

Jul 8, 2020

The town’s summer concert series looks to be off the table this year as state guidelines for reopening outdoor performances have made the annual events “impossible,” according to officials.

Outdoor performances are allowed starting in phase three of Governor Charlie Baker’s reopening plan, which started on July 6.

But the guidelines put in place to ensure safety during the pandemic set a cap for the total number of attendees at just 100 — including workers.

Last year marked the 20th year of the weekly concerts, which regularly see 500-800 guests and larger events drawing crowds of over 1,000 to Apponegansett Park.

The series was meant to start up on June 10, but every concert has been cancelled so far due to coronavirus.

Members of the Dartmouth Parks and Recreation Board said at a July 8 meeting that they would continue to cancel the concerts week by week in the hopes that state regulations change as the pandemic subsides.

Board member Jim Vieira said that health director Chris Michaud told him it would be a mistake to hold a large event at this time, even outdoors.

“I think it’s shameful, what the state’s doing,” said board chair Joe Vieira. “There’s plenty of space there...It doesn’t make any sense.”

Vieira noted that hundreds of people visit Dartmouth’s beaches during the day and manage to maintain social distancing. 

“We can social distance, it’s no different than the beach,” he said, calling the rules “disappointing.”

As for just holding the concerts for 100 people (or 75 including the workers and performers), Vieira said “It would be impossible to try to do that.”

Hundreds of people would have to be turned away from the event, he noted, adding “It would cause more problems than it would be worth.”

At the same meeting board members mentioned a few incidents with residents voicing displeasure with the kids checking stickers at the town’s beaches.

One person went online to “blast” a young lady after being mistakenly charged to use the beach, Vieira explained after the meeting. “And people piled it on.”

He noted that this type of behavior is “totally unacceptable,” adding, “You have a problem, you come see me.”

“I get that everybody’s on edge with Covid,” he said. “But these kids aren’t getting paid to put up with everybody’s grief...They’re great kids. We will defend our staff.”

Parks and Recreation Director Tim Lancaster noted that there have also been a few problems with people driving in to turn around and simply continuing to the beach. 

“That happens quite often,” he said. “We are pretty responsive to that.”

Lancaster noted that those who do this can be cited for trespassing with a motor vehicle, and that residents can lose their beach privileges if they run the gates.

“Those kids are in charge,” he said. “If you’re going to disrespect them, there will be consequences.”

Board members also commended residents for maintaining social distancing while using the town’s beaches. 

Vieira said that officials are monitoring the situation, and so far everyone seems to be following the rules. 

“Everybody’s doing the right thing,” he said.