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Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / James Stockdale, front, and Marshawn Sims work to replenish mulch on Friday in Coolidge Park. Workers trimmed trees and bushes as they prepared the park for the upcoming musical festival on Friday, September 3, 2021.

One week after its larger cousin, Bonnaroo, had to cancel because of heavy rains brought on by the remnants of Hurricane Ida, the Moon River Festival is set to get underway Saturday at Coolidge Park.

"We are ready, I think," said Jonathan Susman, special events manager with the city of Chattanooga.

The festival did get some bad news Friday when musician Yola announced she had tested positive for COVID-19 and would be postponing or canceling several shows, including the Moon River Festival. Officials did not return emails late Friday asking if there would be a replacement.

Susman said crews have been working for weeks to get the park ready and he has been working with C3 Presents, which also helps produce the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. That event canceled Tuesday of last week, two days before it was to begin, because of unsafe conditions.

Weather forecasts for Moon River are for plenty of sunshine and temperatures in the low to mid-80s. Like Bonnaroo, Moon River is officially sold out, though some tickets are available online through resellers. Moon River has issued protocols for patrons coming to the event requiring they either be vaccinated or bring a recent negative test result for the virus. Unvaccinated patrons will be asked to wear masks while at the festival.

In addition, organizers have asked via their online list of entry requirements that people bring a mask to the event both days.

"Based on the latest advice from health officials, Moon River will ask that patrons wear masks in any indoor spaces at Coolidge Park, which includes The Lookout Lodge, The Carousel, Box Office, VIP Hospitality Lounge and the Friday night VIP Event. All fans attending the festival must bring a mask each day," according to the event's website.

Susman said the requirements are being dictated by the festival and are similar to what other festivals and some venues are doing.

"We are extremely appreciative of C3 Presents and their dedication to a safe and fun festival experience for all attendees," he said.

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Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / A temporary wifi hub that was installed on Friday in Coolidge Park. Workers trimmed trees and bushes as they prepared the park for the upcoming musical festival on Friday, September 3, 2021.

Set to perform are almost two dozen acts including headliners Wilco, Lord Huron, Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors, Old Crow Medicine Show, Lake Street Dive, Dr. Dog and Amythyst Kiah, who grew up in Chattanooga.

The event, which was co-founded by Holcomb, moved to Chattanooga from Memphis four years ago after it outgrew the venue there. Holcomb turned over running the festival to AC Entertainment out of Knoxville. As the co-founder of Bonnaroo, AC was better prepared to run the festival than what Holcomb's talents could provide.

AC was bought by Live Nation and C3 in the years since.

Susman said no one had produced a gated/ticketed event in Coolidge Park before but that the first two years of Moon River went smoothly.

"First-year events always have challenges, a lot was addressed before we even opened the gates," he said. "There were not many changes between years one and two. We just want to make sure the merchants know it is happening and then make sure the public is aware that the merchants are open.

"It's such a well-oiled machine and a great group to work with," Susman said.

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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