Normally, Monterey County has no shortage of big events that attract locals and visitors alike. The pandemic did its worst and canceled or postponed virtually all big events for the past year. But as vaccines roll out and the county moves into the Red Tier, some events are coming back in real-life, in-person form.
“Everybody is cautiously optimistic,” says Wendy Brickman, owner of Brickman Marketing, which focuses on promoting smaller events. Brickman just announced that the 53rd Scottish Games and Celtic Festival has been postponed to 2022, but overall she thinks things are getting better and says there is a renewed sense of needing to plan. “We have a lot of hope that things will get better sooner than expected,” she says.
Nicola Reilly, executive director of the Monterey Symphony, is keeping her ear to the ground for any guidance on future indoor events. She’s been scheduling more solo, outdoor “Balcony Sessions,” but is waiting in the wings for a real orchestral experience. “We’re planning, but we don’t know what we’re planning for,” she adds.
Here’s what some other planners are currently planning for.
California Roots Festival
postponed until May 26-29, 2022; californiarootsfestival.com
According to the reggae festival’s website, there will be no 2021 Cali Roots event. They will, however, “honor” all 2021 ticket holders when they reconvene in 2022. There’s a lot to look forward to next year including headliners like Ice Cube, Damian “Jr Gong” Marley and Atmosphere.
Car Week events scheduled at the track will be WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca’s first experiment with in-person events since the pandemic, but expect 100 fewer cars for the Paddock. During the pandemic, the track was open to non-spectator sports. Other Car Week events, like the Concours d’Elegance as well as auctions and other showcases, are tentatively scheduled as well, according to their respective websites.
West End Festival
scheduled for Aug. 27-29, 2021; westendcelebration.com
According to Sand City City Manager Aaron Blair, West End will look a little different, but he and the City Council are “cautiously optimistic” that they can blend this local arts festival with the we. Art mural festival. (Both are outdoor events.) One-hundred artists and musical acts are slated to descend upon the streets of Sand City with the caveat of crowd control policies.
Monterey County Fair
scheduled for Sept. 3-6, 2021; montereycountyfair.com
The fair is scheduled for Labor Day weekend, just as it has been traditionally. According to Monterey County Fair and Event Center CEO Kelly Violini, the current plan is to allow up to 25-percent capacity and adjust entertainment and other fair offerings accordingly.
California Rodeo Salinas
postponed then rescheduled for Sept. 23-26, 2021; carodeo.com
Things were not looking so hot in 2020 for the Rodeo when they prematurely rescheduled for October 2020. To cut a long story short, it didn’t happen. It was rescheduled again for July 2021, which in past years, is their usual date. They’ve rescheduled again for this year, now hoping for late September dates.
Monterey Jazz Festival
scheduled for Sept. 24-26, 2021; montereyjazzfestival.org
Last year the Monterey Jazz Festival went completely virtual – this year may see its full return. But it all depends, according to MJF Executive Director Colleen Bailey. She says they’re planning both a virtual and live event, with the “fervent hope that we will be given the go-ahead with the live event.” The 2020 all-virtual event featured contemporary and archived performances.
Sea Otter Classic
scheduled for Oct. 7-10, 2021; seaotterclassic.com
Usually, this multi-day bike experience was the spring event that would kick-start the season of big gatherings, bringing cycling competitors from all around the world to go spoke-to-spoke in various professional and amateur competitions and to a massive expo. It was canceled last year; this time around, the Classic is playing it safe and moving from spring to fall.