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River Rock season canceled

Decision comes less than 50 hours before first show

Submitted photo / Bob Jadloski The Warren Community Amphitheatre, shown here before Yo-Yo Ma’s 2018 appearance, is the site of the River Rock at the Amp concert series, which was supposed to stage the first of eight summer concerts on Friday. Directives from the Ohio Department of Health forced Sunrise Entertainment to cancel the entire summer season.

WARREN — Less than 50 hours before the gates were supposed to open for the first River Rock at the Amp concert of the summer at Warren Community Amphitheatre, Sunrise Entertainment canceled the entire 2020 season.

Directives from the Ohio Department of Health due to the COVID-19 pandemic led to the decision.

John May, deputy health commissioner of the Warren City Health District, said he participated in a webinar Wednesday morning with ODH officials, who indicated that outdoor amphitheater concerts should be canceled until further notice.

“There was no question about it,” May said. “It was something that hit home for us considering we have the upcoming July 3 concert scheduled. That clarification prompted us to get hold of Mr. (Ken) Haidaris (president of Sunrise Entertainment).”

Temporary fencing already had been installed at the amphitheater and portable toilets were set up, but Haidaris said the unrecoupable expenses weren’t too bad.

“Now you have to call all your sound companies and artists and beer hawkers and everyone involved down the road,” he said. “I feel bad for these sound companies. They haven’t worked for months and don’t know when they’ll work again. I feel bad for all the ancillary people, the food vendors, the restaurants downtown. That’s really the worst part of it.”

Sunrise Entertainment also books shows for the Robins Theatre, and Haidaris said he worries if outdoor concerts aren’t safe during the summer, indoor shows might not be allowed until 2021.

“If these (coronavirus case) numbers keep spinning the way they are, they’re just going to restrict everything again,” Haidaris said.

May agreed.

“As the numbers continue to climb, there’s a good chance we’ll see more restrictions or clarifications put out there (by the state),” May said.

The 2020 River Rock season was supposed to start Memorial Day weekend, but state directives forced the cancellation of the first four concerts. Earlier in the week, Haidaris was making plans to go forward with the eight remaining shows.

The Jimmy Buffett tribute Fins to the Left was supposed to headline Friday’s concert with My Drunk’n Uncle opening. Nadirah Shakoor, a backing singer in Buffett’s band, was flying in from Atlanta to join Fins for the performance.

“We’re very disappointed,” Fins founder and lead singer Shawn Lawless said. “I just had to contact Nadirah and tell her the show was off. Obviously all the arrangements had been made.”

A post on River Rock’s Facebook page Wednesday afternoon said, “We thank you for your continued support beginning with our first season in 2010. We plan to be back better than ever in 2021!”

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