2018 CCMF

A scene from the 2018 Carolina Country Music Fest shows the crowd spilling from Ocean Boulevard toward Kings Highway between 8th and 9th avenues north in Myrtle Beach. Photo by Janet Morgan/janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com

The four-day Carolina County Music Fest is officially back on schedule after the 2020 COVID-19 cancellation.

Organizers were granted a special use permit by the Myrtle Beach City Council on Tuesday.

Bob Durkin, the founder of CCMF, said the June 10-13 festival will be on the same footprint as the past and the headliners will be the same as those slated for last year.

The footprint is Ocean Boulevard between 8th and 9th avenues north. The headliners are Darius Rucker, Luke Combs, Jake Owen and Eric Church.

The difference, he said, will be temperature checks, rapid COVID-19 tests if needed for those feeling sick, extra staff, guidelines encouraging social distancing and signs for concert-goers to wear face masks.

Another difference will be the haul the city gets from the event that draws about 30,000 people each day.

Part of the agreement with CCMF is the city will continue to co-sponsor the event by providing barricades, litter control, police and emergency personnel presence, and road closures. It costs the city about $220,000 for the in-kind services.

The organizers had originally agreed to give the city $5 from each ticket sold netting the city an expected $150,000. The fee was to be used to defray public safety costs. The fee was not an add-on that customers would see a line-item note designating the money to the city. The organizers peeled off the fee from existing ticket prices.

Durkin had asked the council to waive the fee just for this year because of added COVID-19-related expenses. But city leaders agreed instead to knock $2 off the tab for each ticket sold.

City Manager Fox Simons said the expected expenses for public safety is offset by about $145,000 in business license fees, accommodation tax, hospitality fees and tourism development fees. Adding the estimated $150,000 from the $5 per ticket fee, the city would end up with more than $75,000 after expenses.

In the wake of the COVID-19 economy, Durkin said the festival has lost several sponsors including Johnsonville Sausage totaling “hundreds of thousands of dollars” while expenses to add staff and equipment continue to go up. He said he didn’t have a total estimate of increased expenses because negotiations are ongoing with service providers.

He added ticket sales are slow, but he’s optimistic it will pick up. Tickets are available in various packages through Eventbrite.com.

Durkin said he’d be open to discussing a compromise of increasing the per ticket fee next year to make up for the loss the city will incur this year.

“As you’re in the situation of budget issues, with loss of sponsorships and added expenses, we’re basically in the same boat, in some respect, with a lot of the revenue that we’ve lost over the past year,” council member Mike Lowder said.

But fellow council member Mike Chestnut looked beyond the tally sheet.

“This event here could show that Myrtle Beach is back open,” he said. “But we need to make sure it’s done as safe as possible.”

The council agreed to various street closures following the same schedule as the past. Closures allow the event staff to set up and take down the equipment used for the concerts. The closures include:

• Ocean Boulevard between 8th and 9th avenues north at 8 a.m. June 7-8 a.m. June 15.

• 8th Avenue North parking spaces on the westbound lane closed June 8 through noon on June 15; all lanes from Kings Highway to the boulevard closed June 9-June 14; and the beach access closed from June 7 through noon on June 15.

• Chester Street between 7th and 8th avenues north, including parking lanes, closed June 10 to noon on June 14.

• The eastbound lane and parking spaces on 9th Avenue North closed from Kings Highway to the boulevard June 10-June 14.

Janet Morgan is the editor of the Myrtle Beach Herald. Contact her at 843-488-7258 or at janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com.

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