Q&A with CarmelFest Organizers Jeff Worrell and Steve Krusie

Ally Horwitz

Jeff Worrell, At-large councillor for Carmel City Council Council Submitted Photo

How was the decision made to have a CarmelFest this summer?

We based it on a lot of things. Number one, the fact that it’s in July. The fact that our numbers in Hamilton County are falling. The fact that there are increased vaccinations. So (we used) those medical metrics, but then also (we were) trying to create a sense of normalcy for our citizens, as best we can. We believe residents want CarmelFest to take place. And, certainly, it’s an optional thing, so if you don’t feel comfortable, you don’t have to come.

Why do you think this decision was important and necessary?

Well, it’s our largest festival. It’s also the oldest festival, and we have many throughout the summer months, but it was really important that we would focus on this one and try to do it safely. We’re doing some things a little different this year, but we felt it was important because of its magnitude and history. Everybody that lives in Carmel knows about CarmelFest. 

How will CarmelFest look different this year as compared to years prior?

So, we are going to operate in two distinct locations. We will have entertainment, and it will be north of our typical location, which is Carter Green by the Palladium. And then we’ll have sets of food booths and entertainment, a stage and activities that will be the gazebo. So we’re trying to spread out. The other thing we’re doing is we’re running two sets of fireworks on the east and west side, and those will shoot off on July 4 for people who maybe want to celebrate CarmelFest in their backyard, and then we’ll do the typical set of fireworks on July 5 as the finale to CarmelFest. So, we’ll have two nights of fireworks. On the fourth, we will launch (the first set of fireworks) at Carmel Dads’ Club and West Park. Those will be at 9:45 p.m. on July 4. And then on July 5, we will shoot from Carmel Drive, and Chase Court at 9:45 p.m. It’s the same show on both nights, but in different locations.

Steve Krusie, CarmelFest Chair Submitted Photo

What activities can families do together at CarmelFest?

Family activities at CarmelFest will include pretty much everything we’ve offered in the past, including live music on two stages, marketplace vendors that will be displaying their art/craft wares, food truck vendors featuring favorite regional and international cuisines, as well as a Kids Zone with animals and birds that families can feed and pet. CarmelFest Has Talent will take place on Sunday, July 4 on the Gazebo stage at Civic Square. Fireworks shows will occur on the east and west sides of Carmel on July 4th followed by a fireworks show over central Carmel on July 5th. Additionally, the CarmelFest parade will take place on Monday, July 5 at 10:30 a.m., along the same route it’s been held in previous years.

What COVID-related safety measures will be present at the festival?

CarmelFest will implement safety features like increased physical distancing between vendors and more handwashing stations and sanitizing pumps at both Carter Green and Civic Square. Speaking of which, probably the biggest adjustment is expanding the CarmelFest footprint across Carter Green and Civic Square to reduce congestion and allow more space for physical distancing. Marketplace and food truck vendors will be situated at both Carter Green and Civic Square zones. Our CarmelFest Facilities committee has consulted with the City of Carmel, City EMS professionals, as well as the County Health Department to best address COVID concerns and safety protocols this year. Having said all that, we’re going to stay flexible and nimble if health conditions warrant additional measures when July 4-5 arrives.

Why is CarmelFest so important for the city of Carmel?

CarmelFest is important to our city and surrounding communities for several reasons. Firstly, Carmel Rotary uses the net revenue generated after covering festival expenses to support local organizations through community grants. A few examples include supplying infant car seats for impoverished families through CPD, crisis prevention and intervention training through CCS, supporting local summer lunch deliveries through Carmel Youth Assistance Program and food and volunteer assistance through Merciful Help Food Pantry. Secondly, and probably just as importantly, CarmelFest is a festival that offers pretty much everything for everybody, from grandkids to grandparents and everything in between. Our goal is to provide a safe and family-friendly festival that brings our community together to celebrate our independence and welcomes people from all walks of life to make connections with each other. However, none of this happens without massive cooperation of community leaders, businesses and volunteers. So please sign up to volunteer at CarmelFest.net and learn more about everything happening on July 4th & 5th.