Outdoor concerts under watch by Greenfield Board of Health

  • Uncle Bob was the first act at the Roll On In drive-in concert series at the Franklin County Fairgrounds Friday night. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Uncle Bob mixes music at Roll On In’s first drive-in concert series at the Franklin County Fairgrounds held Friday night. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The sun sets as vehicles are parked at the Roll On In drive-in concert series at the Franklin County Fairgrounds Friday night. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 7/29/2020 3:56:03 PM

GREENFIELD — After an opening weekend that may have involved some health code compliance issues, Roll On In, a drive-in music venue that recently opened at the Franklin County Fairgrounds, is under close watch by the Greenfield Board of Health.

Event producers were called to meet with the Board of Health in a conference call Wednesday morning after board members found cause for concern that the concert venue may not have been totally code compliant in its first days open last weekend, specifically in regard to use of masks, social distancing and occupancy limits.

Ultimately, the board found that some of its concerns may have been unfounded, and did not come to any new decisions.

Still, the board noted that the situation should be monitored going forward. The event producers were cooperative and invited board members to visit the fairgrounds again during operation hours this coming weekend.

“We want the residents of Greenfield to have entertainment and events,” said Board of Health Chair Jennifer Hoffman. “But we want to be sure that people are safe in the pandemic.”

Roll On In, situated at the Franklin County Fairgrounds, involves about 200 parking spaces for vehicles, each of which includes room for patrons to set up chairs and sit outside their vehicle.

Per the venue’s policies, parties that arrive separately may not mingle, and patrons must wear masks when leaving their own space for any reason.

The Board of Health, visiting last weekend, found instances of people not wearing masks and apparently not socially distancing, Hoffman recounted. Similar problems were observed in a second visit, she said.

Concerns about the occupancy limit of the space were also raised by the board in the conference call on Wednesday, though these issues were ultimately dismissed as a matter of misunderstanding the state’s latest guidance on outdoor gatherings.

The event producers, Spencer Lavoie and Joel MacKenzie, acknowledged there were compliance issues on the part of some patrons, but they disputed whether patrons had been walking around without masks.

They emphasized that they were making efforts to enforce policies on masks and social distancing. They also noted that, at their own initiative, they had purchased masks and hired security guards to enforce compliance and to provide masks to patrons who did not have their own.

“We purchased masks at great expense, brought in security at great expense, and we did not see anyone walking around without masks,” MacKenzie said.

He pointed to an instance in which two parties who arrived separately came together to socialize, and were eventually kicked out after event staff spoke to them several times.

The number of people at the concerts could not be cited, MacKenzie said, as ticket sales involve proprietary information that potentially could not be shared in a public meeting.

The Board of Health also raised concerns regarding a legal occupancy limit in the state government’s pandemic rules for businesses. But, at the insistence of the event organizers, the board found that the latest revision of the rules exempts outdoor events if they are “unenclosed” and can maintain social distancing — which, the organizers contended and the board eventually agreed, is the case here.

Mayor Roxann Wedegartner was not in the meeting, but her chief of staff, Danielle Letourneau, said the mayor is supportive.

“She is eager to make sure this can be done safely,” Letourneau said.

Reach Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-930-4231.


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