This is what summer 2021 in Dayton will look like

Business leaders, restaurant owners and event planners are hopeful for a bustling summer in the Dayton region full of performances and rebuilding as many of Ohio’s COVID restrictions expire in June.

Just this Thursday, the Levitt Pavilion released its concert lineup for the summer. The free downtown concerts will be held every Thursday through Saturday from June 12 through Sept. 26.

“Levitt is all about building community. We’re excited to be able to be together again and I’m interested to see the different emotions people have at their first concert,” said Madeline Hart, director of outreach and community engagement for Friends of Levitt Pavilion. “Everybody felt so isolated. Aside from helping the arts, this is about feeling like part of a community.”

Gov. Mike DeWine’s lifting of many public health orders, effective June 2, is positive news for the local hospitality industry, said Jacquelyn Powell, Dayton Convention & Visitors Bureau president and CEO.

Normal capacity limits can used for meetings, conventions, and arts and cultural performances, as well as at restaurants, retail stores and other venues. This should allow residents and visitors to the Dayton community to feel comfortable, Powell said.

The county’s lodgings tax generated about $3.6 million in 2019. The visitors bureau didn’t have estimates on total revenues the area lost out on with canceled events last summer. But the local entertainment options are priceless, she said.

”They serve as economic catalysts for our local economy and help with the recovery from the pandemic,” Powell said in an emailed statement.

It may take awhile for all consumers to feel comfortable traveling, but the numbers are moving in the right direction, according to Longwoods International, a market research company that focuses on travel and tourism.

A lot of pent up demand exists for summer travel, Longwoods International President Amir Eylon said. According to the latest Longwoods study, 89% of American travelers have plans to travel this summer.

Overnight travelers spend three times as much as day travelers, so Eylon said visitors to the Dayton-area who come for a concert or event and stay overnight have a huge impact. This summer will be “the year of the road trip,” Eylon said, and Dayton being located at the crossroads of I-75 and I-70 bodes well for the area.

“Dayton is well positioned,” Eylon said. “Ohio has a huge quantity of high quality events. We love our festivals and events, from live entertainment to county fairs to the arts. A lot of people in this region love going to those kinds of events and don’t think twice about driving a few hours to see a show.”

What’s Happening at the Levitt

Gov. Mike DeWine’s decision to lift the mask requirements on June 2 has made things easier for concerts at the Levitt, Hart said. The organization won’t have to police those attending concerts and patrons can make their own decisions on masking and social distancing.

The pavilion now has touchless restrooms and hand sanitizer around the venue.

Hart said the Levitt plans to put circles for social distancing in the back of the lawn.

“This is a rebuilding year,” Hart said.

Not having concerts last year was a huge blow to the organization. Hart said Friends of Levitt Pavilion held 16 virtual concerts in 2020 and was able to put $28,000 into the struggling performing arts sector, which is what Levitt paid to artists and stage crews.

The Levitt had a $1.5 million economic impact on downtown Dayton in 2019, Hart said. A third of concert attendees across the concert season spent about $60 in a six-block radius before or after one of its concerts, with the average attendance per show at over 58,000 people.

None of that was possible in 2020.

“People are really itching for live music,” Hart said. “They are ready to get back out there.”

The Fraze planning a season

The Fraze Pavilion plans to open its concert season in late July, Kettering City Manager Mark Schwieterman said. Tickets will go on sale in early June, and the season would wrap up in September.

“We’re hearing that folks are ready to get back out (to the Fraze),” Schwieterman said. “From a city perspective, we’re very much aware that people are making their own decisions.”

Social distancing requirements and other COVID precautions will be in place, he said.

Credit: FILE

Credit: FILE

Kettering lost about $740,000 in revenue from its cancelled 2020 season, Schwieterman said. That money came from the Fraze fund, not the city’s general fund. The city also refunded all ticket sales, including the service fee from various sellers, like TicketMaster, he said.

“The bigger impact was just not having community events last summer,” Schwieterman said. “It had an impact on the mood of the community, not having events where we could get out and socialize. We’re hopeful we’ll be able to offer that this summer.”

Kettering plans to spend about $4 million when it reopens the popular 4,300-seat outdoor venue this summer, which includes the contracts for the performers and operating costs.

Busy year at the Rose

With a similar 4,200-person capacity, the Rose Music Center in Huber Heights also did not hold a single event last year due to the pandemic. Many of the Rose’s 2020 events were rescheduled for this summer, including Springfield native John Legend’s show, now on Sept. 4.

The venue’s first non-rescheduled concert that went on sale this year, REO Speedwagon on July 30, has almost sold out, according to Rosemarie Moehring, director of marketing at the Rose. It’s an indication of how much people have missed Live music and going to concerts over the past 13 or 14 months, she said.

“I’ve heard from more than one person that they will never take for granted again doing what they do,” Moehring. “I think that (the pandemic) has put that into perspective, even for myself. I mean, I’ve been doing this for 20 years, I’ve probably been to hundreds of concerts and I did get to the point where I was just like, ‘Oh, not another one.’ and now I’m just like, ‘Bring it on.’”

New shows for this season will still be announced at the Rose, along with the 2020 rescheduled shows. The lengthy lineup, combined with that excitement Moehring has already seen this year, is why she expects this to be one of the busiest concert seasons the industry has ever seen.

The concert season ― which typically wraps up in September for The Rose — might run into October due to demand. That trend could be true outside the Miami Valley, across the industry, as artists and venues become more flexible with dates and scheduling post-COVID-19, Moehring said.

Greene County

The Greene County lodging tax was down 48% in 2020, a direct result of the COVID shutdown, according to the Greene County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Events this summer will increase lodging tax, sales tax and economic revenue, said Jessica Schwartzkopf at the Greene County CVB.

According to 2019 figures, about 11.6% of all private jobs in Greene County were sustained by tourism. Visitors to Greene County spent $577.7 million in business sales, including indirect impacts, that year.

Tourism in Greene County generated $107.4 million in tax revenues in 2019, with $52.9 million accruing to state and local governments. The county missed out on much of that last year.

Yellow Springs’ summer street fair, typically held in June, was cancelled this summer. The village’s Chamber of Commerce organizes the event, which attracts between 20,000 and 25,000 people over the summer, but said it did not feel safe bringing that many people into one space yet.

The village is holding a Pride festival on June 26, an Art on the Lawn event in August and PorchFest in September. Pride weekend will include a car parade, home decoration contest and tickets will soon go on sale for the Pride “after party.” The party will be held at Peach’s Grill and be a silent disco.

“People have definitely missed gathering,” said Yellow Spring Chamber Interim President Alexandra Scott.

Comedian Dave Chappelle’s shows last summer held at Wirrig Pavilion were a huge benefit to the community, Scott said. She didn’t know the exact economic impact of the summer shows, but said several businesses called them “game changers.”

Schwartzkopf said 2019 was a “stellar year” for Greene County tourism, but the pandemic stopped hopes the group had had for 2020. The tourism and hospitality industry were the hardest hit last year, she said.

Warren County impacts

In Warren County, Kings Island is planning on several events this summer, spokesman Chad Showalter said. The park opened May 15 to the general public, when many saw the new rollercoaster Orion for the first time. On May 29 the Soak City Water Park will open. From July 17 through Aug. 1 the Grand Carnivale event will return to Kings Island, Showalter said.

The lodging tax in Warren County was down 40%, which means hotels lost approximately $36 million in total revenue, said Phil Smith, president and CEO of the Warren County CVB.

“Tourism is the No. 1 industry in Warren County. We have more than 12.3 million annual visitors,” Smith said in an emailed statement. “We want the world to come here to visit, and it does.”

Those visitors spend more than $1.3 billion and support 12,000 tourism-related jobs in Warren County.

Smith said when all of the county’s attractions had to shut down, the sense of devastation was palpable.

“Everything went quiet: Kings Island, Great Wolf Lodge, Miami Valley Gaming, the Western and Southern Open, the Warren County Sports Park, not to mention all of our family entertainment centers, our special events and festivals, even our outdoor activities, such as canoe liveries,” he said.

The Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau owns the Warren County Sports Park at Union Village. Smith said several events scheduled for 2020 were forced to cancel, which resulted in a total loss of 165,000 visitors, 74,000 room nights and $48.5 million in economic impact.

One of the canceled events was the biggest soccer tournament in the nation, “SuperCopa,” which would have had a $14 million economic impact. This summer Warren County residents are more optimistic, Smith said.

“It is definitely going to be a year of recovery and rebuilding,” Eylon said.

Here are the area’s big summer events that have given the green light and are go this summer:

☀️Lebanon Country Music Festival

Date: June 11-12

Where: Mulberry Street Plaza, Lebanon

The annual country music festival is returning to Lebanon and will feature musical acts 9Eight Central and Jessie Lyn & the TNT Band. The festival also includes family activities and “unique Lebanon shopping.”

☀️Celtic Fest Ohio

Date: June 19

Where: Ohio Renaissance Fairgrounds in Waynesville

The festival includes live bands, Scottish and Irish dancers and the usual attractions such as the Border Collies and the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment Encampment.

☀️Rose Music Center summer lineup

Date: First show is July 30

Where: 6800 Executive Blvd., Huber Heights

Many of The Rose’s 2020 events were able to be rescheduled for the 2021 season, including Springfield native John Legend’s show, now scheduled for Sept. 4. New shows for the 2021 season are still being announced.

☀️Dayton Pride Parade & Festival

Date: June 4-5, 2021

Where: Downtown Dayton

The Greater Dayton LGBT Center celebrates PRIDE each year on the first weekend of June. According to the event website, it will kick-off on Friday night with “Affair on the Square,” followed by a parade and festival on Saturday.

☀️Lights in Flight Festival and Fireworks Show

Date: July 3

Where: Downtown Dayton (fireworks discharged at Kettering Field complex)

The city’s Lights in Flight fireworks festival celebrating the Declaration of Independence usually attracts more than 50,000 visitors downtown. The fireworks show is expected to last no more than 25 minutes.

☀️Dayton Celtic Festival

Date: July 30-Aug. 1

Where: Riverscape MetroPark, downtown Dayton

The festival is a packed weekend, filled with live Irish music, workshops, vendors, food, beer, children’s activities and more.

☀️Asian Food Fest

Date: Aug. 7-8

Where: 2nd St. between Elm and Walnut streets, downtown Cincinnati

This annual food festival celebrates the cuisine of Cambodia, China, Hawaii, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

☀️Germanfest Picnic

Date: Aug. 13-15

Where: Historic St. Anne’s Hill

The annual Germanfest Picnic serves as the major annual fundraiser for maintenance and operation of the Liederkranz-Turner, Dayton’s oldest German Society.

☀️Dayton Greek Festival

Date: Sept. 10-12

-Where: Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 500 Belmonte Park N., Dayton

The Dayton Greek Festival is an annual cultural festival with food, pastries, wine, dancing, church tours and a specialty boutique store.

☀️Ohio Renaissance Festival

-Date: Sept. 4-Oct. 31

-Where: Ohio Renaissance Fairgrounds in Waynesville

The Renaissance Fairgrounds is a 30-acre, 16th-century English village featuring a medieval marketplace, full contact jousting, games, rides, entertainment and themed weekends.

Here are the summer events that have been announced to not be happening, or are still waiting on a re-scheduled date for this summer or fall:

☀️Dayton Jazz Festival

-Date: June (TBD)

The Downtown Dayton Partnership listed the event as happening sometime this June.

☀️Dayton Blues Festival

-Date: July (TBD)

-Where: Levitt Pavilion

A July date for the Blues Fest has yet to be set. Blues Fest is part of the Downtown Summer Music Series.

☀️Dayton Funk Festival

-Date: August (TBD)

-Where: Levitt Pavilion

Funk Fest celebrates Dayton’s best-known contribution to popular music.

☀️AleFest Dayton

-Date: August (TBD)

-Where: TBD

☀️Dayton African American Cultural Festival

-Date: August (TBD)

-Where TBD

“The Dayton African American Cultural Festival (DAACF) provides for the coming together of diverse people to celebrate the richness of the African American experience through activities that promote art, education and health,” according to its event website.

☀️Taste of Oregon

-Date: September (TBD)

-Where: Oregon District

The Taste of the Oregon District is a chance to sample food from some of Dayton’s favorite restaurants. There are typically many participating restaurants that offer samplings of signature dishes.

☀️Hispanic Heritage Festival

-Date: September. (TBD)

-Where: Riverscape MetroPark

The festival brings Latin music and food to downtown Dayton for a weekend of celebration of Hispanic heritage.

☀️Dayton Art Institute’s Oktoberfest

-Date: September (TBD)

-Where: Dayton Art Institute, 456 Belmonte Park N., Dayton

Oktoberfest is the DAI’s largest fundraiser each year, and one of the largest fall celebrations in the region.

☀️A World A’Fair Dayton International Festival -- POSTPONED

-Rescheduled date: TBD

-Where: Dayton Convention Center, Dayton

The largest international festival in Ohio is held every May in Dayton. The 2021 festival has not been entirely cancelled, though a potential rescheduled festival date has not yet been announced.

☀️Hamvention 2021 -- CANCELLED

-Where: Greene County Fairgrounds, Xenia

The Dayton Hamvention Executive Committee said delays in getting vaccines out and the new, more contagious form of the coronavirus are factors in the decision to cancel. People who had their tickets deferred in 2020 will be deferred again.

☀️Bunbury Music Festival -- POSTPONED

-Rescheduled date: TBD

-Where: Cincinnati

Bunbury has been postponed, possibly cancelled. Organizers have not officially ruled-out a 2021 festival. Bunbury is a three-day music festival featuring A-list headliners each night.