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'Safety is our number one concern': Fall Wine Fest returns to Downtown Norfolk

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Posted at 3:26 PM, Oct 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-15 16:41:36-04

NORFOLK, Va. - It's crunch time in Norfolk as vendors and organizers complete the final preparations for this weekend's annual Fall Wine Festival.

It's the first time the event will be held since COVID-19 canceled it last year. Yet, even as the pandemic stretches on, organizers are taking their chances to hold a fun and safe event this time around.

Lee Reeder, owner of Burnley Vineyards, has been attending the event since its inception.

"I've been here for 33 years. Every year, we've had this festival."

In fact, Reeder has been in the same exact spot for 33 years, so having Wine Fest return was important to his team's morale and bottom line.

"Why come? Because we do really well," he said.

Jordan Lett, marketing director for Norfolk Festevents, added, "It generates economic impact and, you know, it helps these wineries promote themselves, promote the wines they sell."

While it is a great way to get folks back together again, it's always a risk holding large-scale events, especially during a pandemic.

Lett said this year the event has a number of safety protocols in place.

"This year, we've added some things to help it breathe a little bit, space it out a little bit. For one thing, we sold less tables," he said. "We're going to be using some disposable plastic cups so that it's not so 'wine to bottle to glass to mouth to back to wine bottle.' It's all going to be sort of contained."

Reeder said it's not ideal, but he's willing to comply.

"The plastic cups definitely affect the taste of the wine. At least everybody's on the same level playing field, you know. It would be different if some were allowed to use glass and other people weren't," he said.

News 3 asked Lett if they would be monitoring how closely people stand in line and in the park after having a few drinks. He said, "It's certainly on the people to monitor themselves. If we see anything that's too inappropriate or seems unsafe, we'll be sure to jump on it and make sure that situation is taken care of."

Festevents asks that if people do not feel well, or comfortable, to please stay home.

Gates are open from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Wine sampling ends at 4:30 p.m. and wine sales end at 5 p.m.

Lett said overall, they're really looking forward to having people back in Town Point Park, but asks if you don't feel well, to please stay home.

The city released traffic closures for the weekend:

EASTBOUND WATERSIDE DRIVE
Friday, October 15 at 11 a.m. - Sunday, October 17 at 11 p.m.
Eastbound Waterside Drive between Main Street and Martin's Lane will be closed under Norfolk Police control for event setup. All lanes of eastbound Waterside Drive from Martin's Lane to St. Paul's Boulevard will remain open. Friday, closure will start at 10 am and be secured by 11 am for the weekend.

WESTBOUND WATERSIDE DRIVE
Friday, October 15 at 11 a.m. - Sunday, October 17 at 11 p.m.
Westbound Waterside Drive between Martin's Lane and Main Street will be closed under Norfolk Police control. Two outside lanes of westbound Waterside Drive between St. Paul's Boulevard and Atlantic Street will remain open to traffic. Through traffic will be merged into one lane and detoured onto northbound Atlantic Street for access to Main Street and parking garages.

BOUSH STREET
Friday, October 15 at 11 a.m. - Sunday, October 17 at 11 p.m.
Southbound Boush Street from Brambleton Avenue to Main Street will remain open. Vehicles will be detoured under NPD control to eastbound Main Street. Northbound Boush Street from Main Street to Brambleton Avenue will remain open.

ATLANTIC STREET
Friday, October 15 at 11 a.m. - Sunday, October 17 at 11 p.m.
Northbound Atlantic Street will remain open from Waterside Drive to Main Street. Southbound traffic will be detoured onto eastbound Waterside Drive.

MARTIN'S LANE
Friday, October 15 at 11 a.m. - Sunday, October 17 at 11 p.m.
North and southbound traffic will remain unrestricted at all times. Southbound traffic will be detoured onto eastbound Waterside Drive. Access will be maintained to Towne Bank/Prince Books parking lot and World Trade Center loading dock at all times.

COMMERCIAL PLACE
Open to traffic and unrestricted for the duration of the event closures.

PARKING REMOVALS / SUPPORT VEHICLE PARKING

EASTBOUND WATERSIDE DRIVE
No restrictions to normal on-street parking operations between Martin's Lane and Atlantic Street.

WESTBOUND WATERSIDE DRIVE
Friday, October 15 at 11 a.m. - Sunday, October 17 at 11 p.m.
Parking will be removed on westbound Waterside Drive from Atlantic Street to Martin's Lane. Parking lane will be used for festival support vehicles. Normal pickup locations for rideshare services in front of Waterside District will be accessible via southbound Martin's Lane to eastbound Waterside Drive.

WATERSIDE DISTRICT PARKING LOOP
No access for festival support vehicles in the parking loop in front of Waterside District.

ATLANTIC STREET
Friday, October 15 at 11 a.m. - Sunday, October 17 at 11 p.m.
Parking will be removed on northbound Atlantic Street from Waterside Drive to Main Street.

COMMERCIAL PLACE
Friday, October 15 at 11 a.m. - Sunday, October 17 at 11 p.m.
No restrictions to normal on-street parking operations between Waterside Drive and Main Street.

MAIN STREET
Friday, October 15 at 6 p.m. - Sunday, October 17 at 11 p.m.
Parking will be removed from eastbound and westbound Main Street between Boush Street and Granby Street for festival support vehicle parking. Parking will be removed from eastbound and westbound Main Street between Granby Street and Martin's Lane (no festival support vehicle parking). The taxi loading zone on E. Main Street between Martin's Lane and Atlantic Street will be closed and will shift onto northbound Martin's Lane.

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