Pandemic or no pandemic, Savannah is now kicking off its bustling spring season of festivals.
While we are obviously missing out on vital opportunities to gather as a community and get to know more of our neighbors in face-to-face settings, the altered schedules present some opportunities that might benefit local culture in the long run.
Editor Andria Segedy took a deep dive this week into the lineup for Savannah Black Heritage Festival, which runs from Feb. 5-21.
The 32nd annual festival’s emphasis on virtual rather than live events has prompted a significant website upgrade and plans for high quality video streaming. Highlights will likely include a gospel concert featuring Demetrius West on Feb. 7 and the Future of Jazz Concert along with a tribute to the late Ben Tucker on Feb. 16.
You can also check out Enocha Edenfield’s coverage of the 2021 American Traditions Vocal Competition, which will be streamed on eight dates in February. Ticket holders will be able to watch recorded performances through Feb. 28.
The Savannah Book Festival continues its impressive series of virtual author appearances with Larry Loftis at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 10.
Loftis’ new book “The Princess Spy: The True Story of World War II Spy Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones” recently got a great review from “Publishers Weekly.”
The SBF will soon be announcing dates for virtual appearances by Kyle Mills, S.C. Gwynne, William Kent Krueger, Wright Thompson and Jack Carr.
I assume that most Savannahians who support arts and culture are anxious to return to in-person events, but it’s worth remembering that virtual events will engage folks who might otherwise miss out, including people who have limited mobility, who live out of town or who have other commitments that prevent physical participation.
Let’s hope that event organizers throughout the region will continue to offer some high-quality virtual programming even after the pandemic is behind us.
The Savannah Irish Festival has adjusted in different ways. Organizers recently announced that a series of smaller events will replace the weekend festival typically held each February. Next up is a Ceili featuring traditional Irish entertainment slated for Feb. 13 at Billy’s Place above McDonough’s Restaurant & Lounge. All events throughout the year will follow strict safety protocols.
Savannah Stopover Music Festival remains in “a holding pattern” but will obviously not be happening in early March as usual. There just isn’t a clear path yet for a festival that relies heavily on performances by touring acts in relatively small venues.
The Savannah Music Festival, which is typically held in late March and early April, is planning primarily outdoor performances at Trustees’ Garden in May. The full schedule might be announced in late February.
I am betting that Savannahians will step up to help these various festivals as they grapple with the ongoing challenges presented by the pandemic. With strong community support, some events might be better than ever in 2022.
Bill Dawers writes the City Talk column for the Savannah Morning News. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org and @billdawers on Twitter.