Festival lovers can look forward to the return of ViVa! Vienna! on Memorial Day weekend, but this year’s event will be smaller and less-publicized and have several important differences from previous ones.
“It’s not the normal ViVa! Vienna! which we would love to be doing,” said event chairman A.J. Oskuie during an April 12 update for the Vienna Town Council. “We want to make sure this is a safe and fun event.”
The Rotary Club of Vienna, with assistance from the Vienna town government, will hold the festival May 29 through 31 at three venues. All the locations will direct pedestrian traffic in a single direction to minimize congestion.
One zone will be the festival’s typical location on Center, Church and Mill streets, Dominion Road and Ayr Hill Avenue. The area north of the Freeman Store & Museum will offer carnival rides provided by Cole Shows Amusement Co. Inc., the club’s usual vendor. Children’s rides will be cordoned off in a separate area from ones used by older youths and the young at heart.
Up to 750 visitors will be allowed in this zone at any given point.
Attendees will need to register in advance online, then queue up at the entrance on Dominion Road, N.E., and display their received QR (Quick Response) codes on their smartphones in order to receive wristbands for entry.
Patrons in the amusement area will have an hour and 45 minutes to enjoy the rides, then depart for a 15-minute break period before the next group.
The second zone, located at the Town Green, will offer 40-minute shows for children and families. Up to 75 audience members will be allowed at each show, then there will be a 20-minute period to prepare the area for the next performance, said Vienna Parks and Recreation Director Leslie Herman.
Attendees planning to attend shows also will need to register in advance and queue up in the parking lot of a building on stilts just west of the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Regional Trail, which is where previous events’ food courts have been set up.
A third area set up on Caffi Field near the Vienna Community Center will have tents with craft vendors and other organizations. There will be 160 well-separated vendor areas this year, instead of 300 more tightly clustered spots as in previous years.
Up to 550 visitors will be allowed in this venue at any point. Attendees will not need to register for this zone, but will need to line up near the softball diamond closest to Vienna Elementary School, Herman said.
Masks will be required in all three zones and their waiting areas.
“We’re taking every precaution to make the event safe and make visitors feel safe,” Herman said.
The festival will provide finger foods in the amusement area, but there will be no traditional food court. Instead, “we’ll encourage folks to visit downtown businesses,” she said.
Organizers will divert bicycle and pedestrian traffic on the W&OD around the amusement area and back to the trail’s signaled crossing at Maple Avenue. Because so many pedestrians will be using the trail to travel between the ViVa! Vienna! venues, organizers will ask cyclists to dismount and walk their bikes through this area, Herman said.
Because of attendance constraints, the Rotary Club will not conduct its usual extensive advertising campaign or string a banner across Maple Avenue to alert the public to the festival. The club will do some outreach in upcoming weeks to alert event patrons of the new arrangements, using videos produced at James Madison High School.
Rotarians will need to find volunteers to work a total of 420 two-hour shifts over the three-day event.
“We are totally committed to getting this off the ground,” said Rotarian Gunnar Spafford.
For more information, visit www.vivavienna.org.