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U.P. City Fest to be reconsidered by council at special meeting today

ISHPEMING — The Ishpeming City Council will hold a special meeting at the Lake Bancroft Mining Heritage Pavilion along West Euclid Street at 2 p.m. today to revisit its Aug. 5 decision to grant a special event permit to U.P. City Fest.

The event, which was organized by Lifelight Communications Inc. — a nonprofit organization based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, that offers free festivals and events to spread a Gospel message — is scheduled to occur at Al Quaal Recreation Area on Saturday.

Ishpeming City councilors Lindsay Bean and Jason Chapman requested the special meeting, according to a post on Bean’s Facebook page.

This came after Ishpeming residents openly expressed concern about the amount of attendees projected for the event as it relates to public health and safety guidelines set forth by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The council approved a measure that would allow Al Quaal to be considered a concert venue in the case of U.P. City Fest, meaning the event can go forward with up to 500 people under Whitmer’s reopening plan, which is one of the points Bean and Chapman will likely address.

“In addition, we requested the venue designation of Al Quaal not be challenged beyond ‘city park,’ and that we adhere to 250 capacity limit of the Executive Order 2020-160 8(b) as it pertains to outdoor events,” the post states. “Neither Jason (Chapman) nor I believe it was, or ever has been the intent of the council to challenge the limitations prescribed by the governor’s executive orders.”

Whitmer’s executive order states “an outdoor concert space, race track, sports arena, stadium or similar outdoor venue may be open to spectators or patrons, but only to the extent that it limits the number of people in the venue to 25% of its maximum capacity or to 500, whichever is smaller.”

Other outdoor gatherings in the Upper Peninsula are limited to 250 people under Whitmer’s executive order.

A post on the Cross Bridge Churches Facebook page called for public support of the festival during this afternoon’s meeting.

“There is a loud rude group trying to cancel our performances at Al Quaal,” the post states. “The city commission of Ishpeming voted unanimously to hold the event. Now they are under pressure and holding a meeting to possibly cancel the event…. Six shows have been done in Iron River, Kingsford and Escanaba safely with people respectful and showing good social distancing.”

Lisa Bowers can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is lbowers@miningjournal.net.

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