BY MARIE PULEO | POMPANO BEACH NEWS REPORTER
The annual Brazilian Festival that usually takes place in October in Pompano Beach, is scheduled to be held in Fort Lauderdale in December 2020.
The 9th edition of the Brazilian Festival, originally set for the weekend of Oct. 17 and 18 at Pompano Beach Community Park, is slated to take place live and in-person at Fort Lauderdale’s Huizenga Plaza (Bubier Park) on Dec. 12 and 13.
The festival showcases top musicians from the Brazilian community, local exhibitors and food vendors. According to Luciano Sameli, the festival’s founder and organizer, it is the largest Brazilian Festival in the southeastern U.S., and is recognized throughout Brazil.
An agreement could not be reached with the City of Pompano Beach on a date to hold the Brazilian Festival in 2020 amid COVID-19 concerns, which prompted the organizer to host the event in Fort Lauderdale.
The 2020 Brazilian Festival will be a much smaller event than in the past, with COVID-19 precautions in place to help keep festival-goers safe, including a temperature check required for entry, mandatory use of masks and physical distancing. There will be a perimeter barrier around the park during the event.
Sameli said the Broward County administrator’s office gave its approval for the festival to take place after discussing the procedures that will be carried out “to provide the community an opportunity to have a safe event.” In addition, the Fort Lauderdale City Commission, at its Nov. 17 meeting, gave Sameli approval to go ahead with the festival.
This year’s festival will be “intimate, exclusive, safe and controlled,” said Sameli, and in order to do that, the number of attendees is being reduced by almost 80%. The number of exhibitors will also be reduced.
No more than 1,700 attendees will be allowed in the venue at one time, said Sameli.
This year, there will be only one stage, instead of two. No one will be permitted to stand in front of the stage. Festival-goers are requested to bring their own beach chairs. A minimum of 200 beach chairs which will be placed in a section in front of the stage, and there will be a minimum of 50 tables for four to six people set up behind the beach chair section.
Sameli said the featured music genres will be “soft and mellow” – jazz, bossa nova and R&B acoustic – for people to sit back, relax and enjoy.
Volunteers and private security officers will ensure compliance with the county’s face mask order.
Exhibitors and vendors will be separated by 10 feet and will be required to follow disinfection guidelines. Sanitation stations will be available throughout the venue.
Tickets must be purchased in advance and will be available only online. Attendees must agree to adhere to festival regulations, as well as a waiver of liability.
This year’s festival will be headlined by local Brazilian artists who are struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sameli said the festival will be taking “a huge loss” in revenue this year due to the pandemic, but he felt it was important to do the festival “in some shape and form” to support the musicians, artists and local vendors who count on the festival as a source of income, and to honor the festival’s longtime fans and donors.
“We want to bring a sense of hope to the community that there are better days ahead,” said Sameli. “We might also be setting an example of standards that can be followed by other promoters, producers, nonprofits and businesses that rely on entertainment, arts and culture.”
The festival is scheduled to run from 11am to 10pm at Huizenga Plaza on both Dec. 12 and 13. Huizenga Plaza is located at 32 E. Las Olas Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301. General admission is $10 for a day pass or $15 for a weekend pass; VIP admission is $45 for a day pass or $80 for a weekend pass. For more details, visit BrazilianFestival.org.
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