Changes coming for Viva Big Bend

Fans enjoyed the bands at last year’s Viva Big Bend music festival in Alpine. 

The City of Alpine held its regularly scheduled city council meeting on June 16, and event producer Stewart Ramser presented an update on the Viva Big Bend music festival in light of coronavirus concerns.

Ramser said this year, the event would be a focus on more outdoor venues, selling fewer tickets, limiting venue capacity to 30-50%, checking temperatures, and issuing facemask recommendations.

“We are looking at a completely different model this year, a very scaled back version, and we have moved some shows to outside when we can,” said Ramser.

Mayor Andy Ramos expressed concern that the coronavirus might spread locally from contact with out of town visitors, and Ramser said in case of hospital capacity issues or if the state were to close again, he reserved the right to cancel the event.

Ramser added that even if the state allowed venues to reopen at a capacity higher than 50%, he would limit Viva Big Bend to no more than 50%. Council, Ward 2, Ramon Olivas asked Ramser from where the visitors would come, and Ramser said it would primarily be the large Texas metropolitan markets, such as Austin, Houston, and Dallas-Fort Worth.

In other business, Council, Ward 5, Rick Stephens addressed a proposed noise ordinance focusing on outdoor music venues, and working with Chief of Police Robert Martin on measuring decibel, or sound pressure, levels.

Stephens said besides a short-term rental ordinance, a proposed loud noise ordinance was also set as an action item for the July 7 and July 21 council meetings, for the first and second readings, respectively. Stephens said the proposed noise ordinance would have a unique provision, or waiver, for a special event such as Viva Big Bend.

Martin will continue gathering data over the weekend, and issue recommendations at the next council meeting.

Finally, Sul Ross State University President Pete Gallego was in attendance at the meeting. He announced that he is becoming the new president at a challenging time due to declining enrollment, the coronavirus outbreak, and economic concerns due to state funding.

Aligning all of our campuses [Alpine, Del Rio, Uvalde, and Eagle Pass] and our curriculum with the local economy is tremendously important so that we build a better relationship not only with local government and local people, but also with the local business community,” said Gallego.

He noted there would be plenty of changes in the future for Sul Ross, those focused on areas that need improvement.

Council, Ward 5, Rick Stephens asked Gallego about the shortage of nurses in the area, and Gallego said the proposed nursing program was vital to the region, and he was expecting approval from the state board of nursing.

The next regularly scheduled city council meeting is set for Tuesday, July 7 at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom videoconference.

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