The full Winter Walkabout Showcase has been postponed until 2022, but there will still be music and photo opportunities downtown throughout February.
The event, traditionally held the first weekend of February to highlight local musicians at traditional and non-traditional venues, has pivoted to a scaled-back chance to listen to local talent and support local businesses.
“We might not be able to host the 2021 Winter Walkabout Music Showcase as it has been in previous years, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t emphasize the incredible amount of talented musicians we’re lucky to have in the Longmont area, and also drive support to those artists and our past Walkabout venues who have had such a tough year,” Colin Argys, Winter Walkabout co-founder and events and marketing specialist for the Longmont Downtown Development Authority, stated in a news release. “The community spirit surrounding the event has been incredible the past two years, so we wanted to still keep that spirit and provide some fun things for folks to do in the (Longmont) Creative District.”
Starting Tuesday, people can visit St. Stephen’s Plaza to hear music that will be broadcast from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily through Feb. 28. Among the local artists whose music will be featured are Tim Ostdiek, Antonio Lopez, Many Mountains and Augustus.
And in homage to Punxsutawney Phil’s annual peek in search of his shadow, Jess Parrish with Cool Hand Ice on Tuesday will carve a 1,200-pound groundhog ice sculpture in St. Stephen’s Plaza, where the rodent will remain until it melts away.
Visitors to the plaza can take a selfie with the groundhog sculpture and post it on social media with the hashtag #WWMS2021 to be entered to win two tickets to next year’s Winter Walkabout.
The Winter Walkabout was created to showcase local music and venues. The annual event began in 2019 during the first weekend in February, coinciding with Groundhog Day.
“The community response was incredible, and we were able to grow the event again the second year,” Argys said.
The first year was a success, selling out to 550 people. In 2020, the sell-out event had 750 attendees. The 2021 event was going to have 1,000 tickets available, but with COVID-19 restrictions, organizers decided it would be safer to postpone.But the LDDA and sponsor TBK Bank wanted to continue to support local musicians and keep the spirit of the Walkabout alive. Starting Saturday, people can make donations to support local musicians and receive some schwag in return. Depending on the amount given, donors to the fund to benefit local artists will receive a commemorative groundhog button, a CD from one of this year’s artists or a 2021 Winter Walkabout T-shirt and a discount on 2022 tickets. All donors also will be entered in a drawing to win four tickets to the 2022 Winter Walkabout.
During the pandemic, musicians have had to deal with lost shows and wages, while finding creative ways to stay connected to their fans.
Tim Ostdiek participated in the 2019 and 2020 Winter Walkabout events and is among the artists who will be featured at this year’s St. Stephen’s Listening Plaza. The loss of income brought on by the pandemic prompted him to find a second job in a coffee shop.
In previous years, Ostdiek has played his Walkabout sets at 300 Suns Brewing.
“Halfway through our set, I don’t think there were any open chairs,” Ostdiek said, adding he remembers venues filled throughout the day, with some even having to turn people away, during previous Walkabout showcases.
Second job or not, Ostdiek said the pandemic isn’t preventing him and his girlfriend, Jenny Balagna, from creating music. Originally they were doing weekly livestream concerts on Facebook. Additionally, they release music videos every Thursday.
“I’m recording my own music and producing videos for some other people,” Ostdiek said. “So, just kind of loads and loads of little bits of content that come out of our house every week, which is fun.”
Ostdiek and Balagna also will be featured in a video that will premiere Saturday on YouTube and Facebook. The video also will include interviews with Walkabout founders, will recap the event’s history and feature other artists who have been involved in past years.
In addition, this year’s event will feature “Random Acts of Community,” through which TBK Bank will surprise customers by paying part of their checks at restaurants or picking up part of their tabs for coffee or other goods purchased at downtown businesses.
Organizers also have created links to support past Walkabout artists and venues on the event landing page.
“If there's one thing that people take away from 2020 and the pandemic, it's the importance of supporting your local community. From small businesses to artists to your neighbors. I hope that Longmont comes out of this a stronger community,” Argys said. “That's what stood out to me from the first two Walkabouts ... how the community came together and made it such a special day in Downtown Longmont. I can't wait to be able to do that again.”
Click here to learn more about this year’s festivities and how to donate.