ANN ARBOR – Monroe Street Fair Founder Charlie Strackbein announced this week on the event’s Facebook page that the popular complimentary festival side of the annual Hash Bash on the University of Michigan Diag would likely not return until 2022 at the earliest, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
In an interview Tuesday with Michigan Marijuana Report (www.mimarijuanareport.com) Editor Mike Brennan, Strackbein explained why:
“There are many factors, the top being responsibility, health, social agreement, timelines, legal. morals, ethics and Karma,” Strackbein said.
“We have obvious obligations to ensure our events are safe. We cannot promote gathering is safe with little confidence all attendants will comply with existing safety protocols. Coordinating a low density event in our current public an free venue unpractical.
“We can respect the current percentage of people who have been tested and were positive keeping in mind and there could be short notice cancellations while impossibly trying to reduce travel and keep it local,” Strackbein said. “We can provide plenty of hand washing stations and only encourage attendees to wash their hands. With all of these uncertainties. The sooner attitudes change the sooner an event has a strong chance at compliance and success. By the way we would never imagine our beloved enthusiasts, supporters and sponsors as herds.”
Strackbein said it comes down to the current social response in the United States as well as the planning, permitting and promotional time.
“We are far from any national social agreement and solidarity necessary to overcome this out of control national pandemic,” he said. “It’s obviously complicated and clearly not being taken seriously by our countries top leadership.”
Strackbein added: “We need greater social agreement and national solidarity to lessen the impact the pandemic is having on our country, before we can even begin the conversation to safely return to large scale public gatherings. We need to plan accordingly, stay safe and follow what we think will get us there.”
He said the longer everyone disagrees about the country’s direction the less chance America has at slowing and stopping the spread as well as lessoning the suffering while saving lives.
“So please set a good example and listen to your heart while envisioning what it takes to get back to our essential large scale ritualistic public gatherings such as concerts, sports and festivals. I imagine the answer lies somewhere along a path of urgent societal compromise.”
Strackbein said his group has a timeline to work with the City of Ann Arbor, his legal and insurance teams, his sponsors, and the public towards an event that best assures public health, safety and welfare. He said Monroe Street Fair has to begin the application process, fine tune planning and execute the promotional program about four to six months ahead of the date to get permits from the City. The first application effort on the safe side of COVID could take several City Council meetings and a longer process.
Even if there is a vaccine announced in October 2020, Strackbein said, he is not confident the vaccine will be proven ready for widespread public immunizations throughout the United States by next spring. He also said federal government leadership would have to change its attitude towards the COVID-19 pandemic by doing more than hoping it will simply go away.
Strackbein says It is possible the Monroe Street Fair could operate outside its traditional date, maybe late 2021. Alternate plans were submitted for the event to be held in October 2020. The time to move that forward has passed.
“We are on top of the entire situation and in communication with the City regarding safe returns to public special events. Everyone is waiting on a better understanding of the spread and social response, the CDC, and Governor. Join the Monroe Street Fair private VIP Group on facebook and stay tuned for emergent details.”
Strackbein said he has put together a Monroe Street Fair before in less than a month, with a lot of cooperation. We are working to hold the event again as soon as possible, Strackbein said.
But health and safety are supreme, more important than any risky commercial progress, he said. There are other primary factors including risk mitigation, protocols, compliance and legal issues. Strackbein refered to Steven Adelman an attorney who specializes in event law in North America, and his recent discussion of the future of event security that helped shed light on the affects protocol measures have on liability.
“As it turns out, when planners publish safety protocols that are designed to let people know the risk mitigation measures being undertaken and make them feel safe attending the event, that constitutes a promise to them that those measures will actually be in force. If people arrive and they aren’t being enforced, the planner has broken that promise and is culpable if anyone gets sick.
‘We can follow your own rules by enforcing measures such as mandatory masks and wearing them and if we mandate social distancing, we would have to make sure people keep six feet apart. in todays nation and state of social disagreement, compliance at the event is sadly unlikely and presents many greater heath and safety issues than imagined at a protest,” he said.
“Our entire planning team agrees morals, ethics and karma are guiding lights at the end of the tunnel, Strackbein said. “There is a consciousness and sense of being in this moment in history. A lot has to change by October for me to go back to my sponsors and say ‘we can resume in April 2021.
“We are envisioning our return and next event,” he said. “We will be ready and lead when it’s time; I am optimistic. Science is understanding more about the pandemic everyday and that’s a very positive sign. Now if we could try and come together to have our best shot to return to elemental health, gathering and greater prosperity.
“Responsibility to the health, safety and the welfare of the attendees that fundamentally own the event will guide our return. We are notably prepared to do the event anytime in 2021 if at all possible, although 2022 seems more likely if attitudes toward the virus change.”
Strackbein said the Monroe Street Fair community began gathering around 2002 with the basic premise of working towards safer access to safer alternative health choices and supporting the Hash Bash. He sees it counter productive and antithetical to the authenticity and reach for overall public health to ignore statistical science and medical advice .
But Strackbein said he wants to hear from his Monroe Street Fair and Hash Bash participants to include their thoughts in planning going forward. We see the event owned by the participants in many ways. So he and his team have created an online survey that asks 50 questions and takes about a half hour to complete.
This VIP Group membership survey is designed to help the Monroe Street Fair find sponsors that best match your key interests,” he said in his survey announcement. “This info will also help our sponsors and event planners produce the most engaging cannabis event experience you’ve ever attended. Please take this survey to help us continue our 19-year legacy by helping us improve our event to best serve your key interests at the next Monroe Street Fair and Hash Bash.”
Strackbein said all responses are anonymous and none of the questions are required (that is, any questions that make you uncomfortable can be skipped). As an appreciation for taking the survey, each participant will get a one in 100 chance to win $100 gift card. He will randomly draw an entry from the first 100 qualified submissions for a $100 gift card that could be used on PayPal, iTunes, Apple Store, Google Play. Or to win a collectible hand-made Glass Art piece from Heller Glass (value $100).
To take the survey, click on https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YPLFGCP.
Please share your opinion directly with us at [email protected].