As parts of the state continue to reopen following closure from the COVID-19 pandemic, Sherman and Denison have each announced updated plans for their respective annual concert series.


Sherman’s Hot Summer Nights will go on as scheduled with modifications to the venue space starting on June 4. Meanwhile, Denison announced it will be delaying the annual Music on Main concert series by three weeks.


Festivities will kick off June 12.


“After several weeks of going through our options of what would be best, having Hot Summer Nights in the landscape we find ourselves in at the moment, we have decided that we are going ahead with the concerts as planned, but we are going to introduce several measures that will hopefully keep people socially distant from each other,” Sherman Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said.


Sherman will start its annual concert series on June 4 at the Sherman Municipal Grounds with party and cover band Time Machine.


Strauch said the city considered alternative options for the concert series but ultimately felt that the city could hold the event due to its outdoor nature.


“We batted around several ideas,” he said. “we considered canceling the first few concerts, or trying to move them until later in the year, but at the end of the guidelines we are seeing come out of the governor’s office were very positive when it comes to outdoor events.


“So, we believe that because these concerts are outdoors. It is not going to be difficult for us to have them while providing for everyone’s safety,” he continued.


On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced plans for the second phase of reopening efforts across the state. While the governor’s orders cleared the way for bars and bowling alleys to open under limited capacity, the only mention of concerts was for drive-in venues.


’We did want to make sure the governor’s remarks did not conflict with what we had planned,“ Strauch said. ”So when he did make the phase two announcement and did not announce anything regarding outdoor concerts, other than what he said in the past, we feel we are on firm ground moving forward.“


The city will be taking steps to try to create distance between groups. The area closest to the stage will be split up in a grid of 12-foot by 12-foot squares for family groups. Strauch noted that the city will be unable to do this for the full concert venue.


“We really think that most people have adopted social distancing strategies of their own right now,” Strauch said. “Obviously we are recommending people wear masks if they feel comfortable doing that.”


In addition to spacing out groups, Strauch said the city will also be increasing the number of hand washing stations and restroom facilities.


“We still plenty of treats to choose from,” Sherman Main Street Manager Sarah McRae said. “We are just spacing them out more so it leaves plenty of room to wait for their favorite treats.”


Sherman’s IT department is also working on a way to live stream the concert for those who are unable to attend in person.


Strauch said the city is still working on plans for the annual Lights on the Lake concert on July 4 at Pecan Grove Park. The city is expected to make an announcement, including the headlining act, by June 1.


“We still have some decisions to make there as far as how we want to make that event as successful as it can be while also providing for public safety.”


Meanwhile, Denison has opted to delay Music on Main for three weeks and change the venue due to concerns about the ongoing pandemic. Under these changes, the concert series will now be held in Forest Park to allow for more space and social distancing, city officials said.


“We delayed our decision as long as we could to determine what the governor’s guidance would be,” Main Street Director Donna Dow said. “We wanted to make it as safe as possible if we were able to proceed. We feel like we have made accommodations for those wishing to stay home or join us onsite. People can social distance safely or enjoy from their cars at a distance.”


With the modified schedule, Chris Jones and the Flycathers and Braiden Williams will now be the first act when they cross the stage on June 12.


The New Day Spiritual and Emmaline Hill, who were originally scheduled to perform on May 22, will now play in 2021. The Hill Country and Connor Harris concert scheduled for May 29 will now take place on August 7, and the June 5 concert for The Steel Woods and Colton Gilbreath will be rescheduled for July 3.


In lieu of the first three concerts, the city will hold drive-in movie showings as a part of Movies of Main.


Like Sherman, Denison also plans to live stream its concerts. Initially, the city planned to hold a Music Alley Happy Hour Pre-Show live streamed ahead of the concert, but it will now be used as to inform visitors about proper precautions, officials said.


“We will start with Music Alley Happy Hour which was planned originally, but will now serve a greater purpose,” Denison Community Outreach Director Sunny Mackey said.


Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.