The West Island Blues festival will back for 2021 and it will be live.

“Well it’s more challenging to put it together simply because of the pandemic,” said Errol Johnson, co-founder and president of the festival.

So this year will be a little different.

In 2020, the festival was held virtually because of COVID-19. For this the 18th edition though, with people getting vaccinated against the virus and with easing restrictions, planners decided to have it live.

“Getting some of the folks, that have been home bound some of them over a year, to get out and participate in something that’s fun,” explained borough mayor for Pierrefonds-Roxboro, Jim Beis, festival co-founder.

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The problem — how to do that while respecting health measures.

“We had to figure out a creative way to operate within the guidelines,” Johnson explained following a press conference where the festival was announced .

The solution, Beis pointed out, is a series of pop-up shows over four weekends.

“We will start on [July] 31st and [August] 1st in Dollard-des-Ormeaux, we will be going to Pierrefonds-Roxboro on August 7th and 8th, then we’ll return to Dollard before wrapping up in Pointe Claire,” he told Global News.

The last shows will be the weekend of September 11 and 12.

To keep crowds small, Johnson stressed that the exact times for shows will not be advertised.

“The length of the show, we know already, is going be two hours, and it’s only going to be one performer,” he said.

This event isn’t the only local festival to have live performances this summer.

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The Montreal International Jazz Festival, Nuit d’Afrique and Just for Laughs are back, even if on a limited scale.

Health experts caution, though the pandemic conditions make it possible to have these events, people should be careful.

“We just have to be a little bit careful,” cardiologist and epidemiologist Dr. Christopher Labos stressed. “The new variants, especially the delta variant could potentially disrupt a lot of the good things we’ve done.”

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There are still questions about how the virus affects large gatherings. It’s for that reason the Quebec government is planning an experiment with the help of researchers from Université Laval.

In September two carefully monitored concerts will be held in the Quebec City area with thousands of spectators. The results will be used to guide future restrictions.

No such testing at the Blues Fest though, a fundraiser for West Island community organization.  Just 500 spectators will be allowed per show.

Organizers hope by next year things will be back to normal.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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