LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The grand stages are up, and preparations are underway for a weekend of music, food, bourbon, and horses for the Railbird Festival at Keenland, but it won't go on without strict COVID-19 precautions.
The highly acclaimed Railbird Festival is back in Lexington after a year hiatus in 2020 because of the pandemic. Organizers are more than pleased because they'd only had their inaugural festival in 2019.
"While we all missed live music and experiences tremendously last year, the Railbird team looked at it as a time to build on the success of our inaugural festival and come back even better than before. We've been planning intensely and are excited for the festival's return to Keeneland with a list of world-class artists, bourbon, and culinary experiences," said Railbird Festival organizers.
They expect 35,000 people to attend on Saturday and Sunday to see headliners like Dave Matthews Band.
"It's back, it's better than ever. It's like the new Coachella of Kentucky," said Vendor Sindicat Dunn with Dunn BBQ.
Dunn and his team will be cooking for the festival's many attendees. For him, the more the merrier.
"I definitely feel safe with getting my vaccination the way that they've put things in place where everyone has to be tested or vaccinated. I feel like you're coming to a safe party," said Dunn.
Railbird organizers have taken steps to make sure that rings true with safety protocols that involve every attendee be fully vaccinated and show proof or have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours.
Attendees will need one of two wristbands to show that they've complied to get in.
Even so, there are some in the community that are worried about the sheer number of people as the entire state is now in the red. Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton and local health officials addressed that concern on Tuesday.
"It is a huge number of people who will be there. And so, they have watched the news and the health issues and put their controls into place," said Gorton.
Dr. Daniel Rodrigue with Lexington Infectious Disease Consultants said large concerts in other states have shown to be able to contain the spread. However, will be monitoring the case numbers after the event.
"It is effective if you employ a lot of measures, but it doesn't take much to have somebody who's not vaccinated, is not masking, to transmit this in a closed setting. This is acting more infectious than it was in the beginning, so I still have some caution and all of us in the community are going to be looking closely to see what happens," said Rodrigue.
Lex 18 asked the Railbird team what assurance they can give the community that this won't be a super spreader event. You can read their statement below:
"The safety of our patrons and our staff is our number one priority. Railbird Festival organizers are in regular communication with local health and public safety officials and will continue to abide by relevant recommendations and guidelines. At this time, a full COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results will be required to attend Railbird 2021. For patrons who are not fully vaccinated, a negative COVID-19 test result must be obtained within 72 hours (3 days) of first attending Railbird. For more information, visit the Railbird website here.