In the last two years there have been few or no festivals in Rhineland-Palatinate because of the Corona rules. Events are now possible again, but a new change in the law is slowing them down.
Wine festivals, street processions, fireworks – actually, the villages in Rhineland-Palatinate could really get going again. However, new regulations are making it increasingly difficult for small towns to continue their festivals in a traditional way.
The amendment to the Rhineland-Palatinate police and regulatory authority law was passed last year, in the middle of the corona pandemic. At that time, many organizers paid little attention to the innovation because no events could take place anyway due to the Corona rules. Now that festivals can be celebrated again, the safety requirements are causing problems for some organizers.
No parade at the Middle Moselle Wine Festival
Among other things, the new changes require stricter security concepts. In Bernkastel-Kues (Bernkastel-Wittlich district), the big festival parade at the traditional Middle Moselle wine festival has therefore been canceled this year. The problem: 6,000 so-called Mannheim grids. They would have to be set up during the parade to block off the course of the route and separate the spectators from the cars – so that nobody gets under their feet.
“6,000 Mannheim bars, not even the biggest rental company has them. They only have 2,000. You can’t get them that easily,” explains Michael Denzer from the cultural office. Together with Mayor Wolfgang Port he has already organized many wine festivals in Bernkastel-Kues. More and more requirements also mean more and more costs.
Ministry: Security concept only for major events
When asked by SWR, the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of the Interior explained that the changes in the law did not result in any new requirements for small events. Rather, there are “additional options for action” for the responsible regulatory authorities that did not previously exist – for example, the possibility of requiring the organizer to submit a security concept.
However, a fundamental obligation for such a concept only exists for major events (15,000 visitors at the same time or 30,000 visitors daily). It is not absolutely necessary for smaller events, unless there is, for example, “increased risk potential”, such as when a large number of people are expected at once.
Responsibility lies with the regulatory authorities
Even if they are not absolutely necessary for small festivals, many regulatory authorities still require high security concepts in order to be protected in the event that something happens at a festival.
The free voters in the Rhineland-Palatinate state parliament also criticize the new rules for public events. The revised law makes it more difficult for municipalities to hold festivals and worries organizers. According to the law, the regulatory authority can demand a security concept. The problem with this: The “can” would usually be read as “must” in the administration, because in the event of damage there is always the question of the liability of the administrative staff or mayor. They demand that the legislature must change the rules in such a way that it is still economically viable to hold small folk festivals.
More festivals on the horizon
In Lieser (Bernkastel-Wittlich district), the wine and street festival was completely canceled due to the high requirements and reduced to a courtyard festival. In retrospect, it turned out that a tractor would have been enough to block terror at the street festival. Now the village is talking again.
In Deidesheim (Bad Dürkheim district), too, it is still unclear how the Weinkerwe should take place in August due to the new safety regulations. The city council was supposed to make a decision on this on Tuesday. But first, the organizers, stand operators, public order office and fire brigade want to discuss whether the Weinkerwe can be preserved in its original form. If not, there could also be a smaller courtyard festival here.