GAINESVILLE – The doors are open again for the Fest 19 punk music festival, and ticket sales opened at 12 p.m. on Friday.
Last year, the event was held virtually throughout the year due to COVID-19 issues and was postponed to this year, said Tony Weinbender, owner of the festival. He said he felt more comfortable hosting it this year now that the vaccines are available, and about 97% of this year’s participants are vaccinated and the rest must show proof of a COVID test- 19 in the last three days.
“I think our participants are going to watch each other the same way they’ve always been in the punk rock scene,” he said. “We kind of look at each other like family, and therefore we take care of each other, so I feel like the most important first step is for everyone to get vaccinated and that has helped a lot.”
The Fest opened in 2002, and since then it has grown from 60 groups to around 400 artists. Weinbender said the festival would have around 3,000 people across the city.
This year, the festival will take place over three days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
This year, it will be distributed to different locations around Gainesville so that participants can choose their experience. Venues include Bo Diddley Plaza, Heartwood Soundstage, Palomino, Knockin ‘Boots Saloon, Downtown Fats, High Dive, The Wooly, Mother’s Pub, Fox Lounge, The Hippodrome, Boca Fiesta, Loosey’s and Vecinos.
Some groups on the lineup include Frank Turner, Gorilla Biscuits, The Menzingers, and Good Riddance.
The line to collect tickets, guides, coasters, cuzies and shirts took up the entire sidewalk of Depot Park on Friday at noon.
Nikki McRae from Atlanta, Georgia, and Maria Orovece from Brooklyn, New York, came together to the Fest to celebrate its reopening. McRae has been at the festival for seven years and Orovece for four years, and they met at the Fest and decided to travel together this year.
“It became a lot of friendships, seeing friends from afar with music in between,” McRae said. She said Facebook groups have also helped her stay in touch with many people she has met at previous festivals.
Brooklyn Davis came down from Iowa and was carrying her luggage up the stairs when she picked up her ticket. She said she felt confident with the protocols they put in place to require vaccination this year or a negative COVID-19 test.
“The fact that they’re asking people to wear masks or get vaccinated is huge,” Davis said.
This article originally appeared on The Gainesville Sun: Fest 19 comes to Gainesville with energy, music and lots of PBR