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Weekend event organizers keeping both safety and fun top of mind

On Saturday, Monster Jam will be the first entertainment event hosted by Nationwide Arena in 511 days. Masks are strongly recommended for unvaccinated guests.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Monster Jam is roaring back into Columbus this weekend.

The Saturday event will mark the first entertainment event at Nationwide Arena in 511 days.

“We’re happy to be back and be one of the first events back in here,” said Heather Lamere, operations manager for Monster Jam.

There will be seven humongous trucks racing and performing tricks. A pit party also will allow fans to get autographs and to talk with the drivers, but they won’t be able to get too close.

“Safety is the top priority for both our staff and the fans, so we just make sure and keep everything as safe as possible for them,” Lamere said.

Social distancing is being adhered to in the pit, and Monster Jam follows the guidelines of the host venue. For Nationwide Arena, that means masks are strongly recommended for unvaccinated guests but not required for those who are vaccinated.

This is nothing new for the Monster Jam staff, however. The traveling event has been continuously operating since last fall, all throughout the changing health threats and guidelines.

“We want everyone to have the best time of their life,” Lamere said. “We want them to remember this 10 years down the road. That’s our plan.”

Meanwhile, event organizers in Dublin are getting a head start. Tents are already set up in Coffman Park for what would normally be the Dublin Irish Festival. But, this year, the event is being called Dublin Irish Days.

“Instead of one, big event where we have 100,000 people in one space, what we’re doing in (Coffman Park) is a concert with a maximum of 7,000 people, and they’ll be spread out throughout this field, and then we’re doing a lot of stuff in our downtown area,” said Alison LeRoy, event director for the City of Dublin.

The event kicks off Wednesday, Aug. 4, and runs through Sunday, Aug. 8. Touchpoints will be limited, and there will be no cash exchanged.

But this year also will offer both ticketed and non-ticketed events to give more people a chance to attend. But all tickets sales will be online.

LeRoy said it’s actually a good thing the event will be scaled back this year. That’s because no international artists will be able to be there, and some of the older vendors opted out because of the pandemic. Other vendors had trouble finding the staffing to support the demand at such an event.

As for the changing health guidelines, organizers are planning to respond and adjust, if needed.

“We’ll be watching all through the next week,” LeRoy said. “We know things are changing, but, you know, we’re used to that now. We change as often right now as we can.”

Other events happening this weekend are the Columbus Food and Wine Festival and Whitehall Food Truck and Fun Fest. The Ohio State University Marching Band also will be performing at Picnic with the Pops at Columbus Commons.