PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — The last holiday weekend of the summer has arrived and despite the rescheduling of Gulf Coast Jam, Panama City Beach officials are still anticipating a large crowd for the long weekend.
Friday would have been the first night of Gulf Coast Jam and thousands of people would have donned their cowboy boots for the country music festival to kick off Labor Day weekend.
Rendy Lovelady, the executive producer of Gulf Coast Jam, said this Labor Day weekend left him feeling sad and wishing time were different.
“Yes, we have regret,” Lovelady said. “It’s sad because we’re missing 30,000 people. But yet at the same time, we did the right thing for our local community.”
Lovelady said some fans who were planning to attend this year’s festival are still spending Labor Day weekend in Panama City Beach.
“I mean, when you have people that are coming from California, they’re not changing their plans they’re still coming,” Lovelady said.
Dan Rowe, the executive director of the Tourist Development Council said this summer season has been different than years past.
“Well I mean this year has been completely different than any other year with the pandemic,” Row said. We’re really seeing is that there’s a lot of demand for people to get away and get to the beach.”
Rowe said before Gulf Coast Jam, vacationers planned their Labor Day weekend plans around the weather but since Gulf Coast Jam, visitors would come rain or shine.
This year, Rowe says more and more trips are being booked at the last minute.
“This year with the pandemic, all of those trends have changed because people just want to get away, they want to be able to relax, they want to be able to unplug for awhile,” Rowe said.
Lovelady said the weather this weekend would have been ideal for the festival but Lovelady and Rowe both said they are looking forward to the rescheduled Gulf Coast Jam in March.