VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Festival-goers already know of this year's lineup for Something in the Water, but Thursday night, a panel revealed some new features, additions and safety concerns to an audience revolving around the festival.
The panel consisted of event organizers and city officials. They and the public all gathered inside a ballroom at the Virginia Beach Conference Center to hear those details.
"There’s curiosity about how this year at the festival is different than last year‘s, and the main answer to that is the footprint is exponentially larger," Brian Solis, an assistant to the Virginia Beach City Manager in charge of special events, said. "The capacity is 70% larger - from 35,000 to 60,000 - and the main difference in enhancement is all the programming that’s free and open to the community here.”
Organizers said another stage will be added, as well as more entrances. There is also a focus on making sure traffic along Atlantic and Pacific Avenues flow more smoothly.
Virginia Beach City Councilman Aaron Rouse, one of the panelists, said there would be free rides on the Hampton Roads Transit trolley. These were just some of the new additions with a focus around the visitors, local businesses and residents.
"Our main goal is to make sure that the festival itself is as harmonious with our residents and our business community as possible so we have a smooth-running event," Solis said.
Concern was also expressed. One concern regarded the coronavirus that posed a risk and even canceled events across the globe.
“It’s all very high on our list of monitoring it," Erin Sutton, the Virginia Beach Emergency Manager, said. "We work very closely with the local health department or state health department and the CDC.”
Sutton said they have a task force that meets weekly. They make sure communication is streamlined among all involved agencies to monitor the virus.
“At the end of the day as we proceed forward and are planning, the show must go on," Sutton said.
The panelists said the Virginia Beach Convention Center will play a pivotal role in the festival. Organizers said that there will be free events that week, both inside and outside.
“We decided this year and we knew that was important to be more than music than last year," a panelist said. "It was vital to Pharrell, it was vital to the laying of the groundwork for this.”
The new map layouts showing some of the features are already online. Click here to see those maps to plan around the festival. Something in the Water begins Monday, April 20 and ends Sunday, April 26.