Citing concerns about COVID-19, city leaders paused an arts and music festival slated for the end of the month.
The Myrtle Beach Arts and Music Festival permit was on Tuesday's city council agenda awaiting approval as council members met virtually for the first time in months. City officials said the twice-monthly meeting was changed from in-person to virtual because of a rise in virus causes and a new strain they believe to be more contagious.
The council tabled the festival permit approval giving City Manager Fox Simons and the event promoters, Steve Taylor and Mike Shank of NS Promotions, time to discuss postponing the event until late February or early March.
The festival, originally scheduled for Jan. 30 in the Grand Park near The Market Common, has occurred the past two years. It included vendors, food trucks, craft vendors, beer, wine, live music and local artists. About 1,000 people are expected to attend the festival.
“This is just a little too soon for me,” council member Mike Lowder said on Tuesday. “I understand it’s outside, but most of these events that take place like this, I’m not so sure that folks do very well with social distancing.”
The city recently extended its mask ordinance through the end of the month. The ordinance requires people to wear masks inside of public buildings and businesses.
With the festival’s permit expected to appear on the agenda in two weeks, the council did approve three other upcoming events.
The council gave the nod to the Myrtle Beach Marathon scheduled for March 6, the Run to the Sun car show slated for March 18-21 and the annual American Heart Association Beach Ride-A-Thon with horses on the beach on Nov. 6.
According to the permit request, the 24th annual marathon is co-sponsored by the city and there are several changes in the event in the wake of COVID-19 concerns.
The changes include eliminating the health and wellness expo held the day before the race, staggering start times, requiring runners to wear masks at the start line and after they finish, holding the family fun run virtually and eliminating a gear check point to reduce person-to-person contact and crowding at the entrance to the start line.
While the full and half marathons will remain at 26.2 miles and 13.1 miles, the route has been altered to have runners going around the Market Common business district on Farrow Parkway rather than up Howard Avenue as years past.
The resolution affirming the marathon states visitor spending is projected to be more than $1.6 million, city taxes and business license fees garner the city about $31,000 and the city will get $5 per runner entry fee for a total between $15,000 and $20,000. The city is expected to spend about $105,000 on such items as solid waste and police officer salary.
The Run to the Sun event on the third weekend of March will be in the area between Myrtle Place and 27th Avenue North bounded by Oak Street and Kings Highway. The event was cancelled in 2020 because of COVID-19 restrictions.
The car and truck show is brought to Myrtle Beach through the Pee Dee Street Rodders club. The club has donated more than $1.9 million to charities since forming in 1987. In 2019, the club donated $100,000 in car show revenue to charities including the Children’s Miracle Networks at McLeod Children’s Hospital, Grand Strand Miracle League, and the Horry County Sheriff’s Department 2019 Benevolent Fund.
The city is listed as a co-sponsor of the event.
The beach ride slated for the first Saturday in November is limited to six horses and riders in each group.
The ride traditionally begins at Lakewood Camping Resort south of the city near Surfside Beach and spans to 54th Avenue North in Myrtle Beach.
Simons said some complained about the horse waste left on the beach in 2020, but he thinks the tide interfered with cleanup. He reminded the council the riders and others associated with the ride are responsible for collecting and disposing of the horse waste left on the beach.