Schenectady County SummerNight, an annual event that’s drawn thousands downtown, has been canceled due to COVID-19.
The event was originally scheduled to take place on July 10, 2020.
“Unfortunately, the pandemic makes it impossible for large-scale events, like Schenectady County SummerNight, to safely take place,” said Anthony Jasenski, chairman of the Schenectady County Legislature. “We look forward to once again showcasing downtown’s dramatic transformation to thousands of visitors from the area and beyond when we host the Capital Region’s biggest block party next year.”
SummerNight began 15 years ago as a single-stage event, featuring local bands. It’s grown quite a bit since then both in terms of crowd size and programming.
“When you look back at what SummerNight was, it was a small community block party. It was a neighborhood block party when it started and it’s just evolved as downtown’s evolved into this massive music festival,” said Jason Lecuyer, the county’s director of special events.
In the last few years, the event has featured not only local bands but also national acts on several stages. The event also includes a Schenectady County Battle of the Bands and a kids’ zone.
National acts like Smash Mouth, Spin Doctors and Blues Traveler have helped to draw in crowds, which in the last few years have grown to an estimated 20,000.
Planning for SummerNight begins months in advance and many of the details for the 2020 event was already set before COVID-19 began impacting the Capital Region.
“We were ready to go actually. We were signing a contract with a fun national headliner. We had some big plans. This year was the 15th anniversary so there [were] a lot of things we were planning on doing. We were really looking to take a tone of reflection this year,” Lecuyer said.
While some events have gone virtual instead of canceling, that just didn’t make sense for SummerNight, according to Lecuyer.
“Because SummerNight does feature a national headline, it’s no different than being able to search these bands online and watch some of their current or previous performances. I think there’s something magical about SummerNight because of the real estate it takes place in; having this gigantic block party-music festival in the heart of an urban downtown and showcasing the new developments in downtown is the lifeblood of SummerNight. So just moving to an online or virtual format, it takes away from what SummerNight is,” Lecuyer said.
This year, he’d planned to expand the kids’ zone and work with the Schenectady Kids Art Festival to turn it into more of a carnival.
“Now we just have more time to create something bigger and better,” Lecuyer said.