Organizers prepare for return of CarmelFest, with a few changes


It takes an enormous team effort to pull off the two-day CarmelFest, but planning its return this year after most of the event was canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic was even more challenging.

Not only is the nation still feeling the effects of the pandemic, which is leading to several changes in this year’s festival, but organizers had less time to prepare as it remained unclear early in the year if the 2021 CarmelFest would happen.

CIC COM 0518 CarmelFest Chair Steve Krusie

“We really didn’t hit the ground running until March,” CarmelFest chairman Steve Krusie said. “Our goal for this year’s festival was to bring back as many of the acts and entertainment and family fun that have always been the hallmarks of CarmelFest but do it in the most safe and responsibly managed way that we possibly can.”

Changes to the July 4 and 5 event include expanding the footprint of the festival from the area surrounding Carmel City Hall to include Carter Green near the Center for the Performing Arts, placing hand sanitizing stations throughout the event area and two nights of fireworks in different parts of town. The fireworks show was the only aspect of the festival that happened in 2020, and organizers received a great deal of support for spreading it throughout the city again.

A similar number of food and marketplace vendors will be at the festival as in previous years, Krusie said, although it may feel like less are on hand because they will be more spread out. He said the change should help alleviate crowding, which has been the biggest complaint at previous CarmelFests, he said.

The KidZone will look a bit different this year, as it will not include inflatables. Instead, Krusie said the area will have more of a focus on individualized activities, such as rock-climbing walls, bungee trampolines, a petting zoo and an aviary, which will be a new addition to the event.

Organizers aren’t sure whether they should expect a smaller crowd or a record-setting one this year, although Krusie is guessing it will be the latter.

“People are really anxious to get out. They’re looking for fun activities to do and reasons to enjoy being outdoors and listening to great music,” Krusie said. “I hope we have record numbers. What that would mean is we could probably see anywhere from 20,000 to 25,000 people each day. That would be phenomenal, but we’ll see. It’s hard to say.”

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