Editorial: We celebrate the return of the Off the Rails Summer Entertainment Series

If you're looking after all these months of avoiding large gatherings because of COVID-19 for something fun to do, several local organizations have partnered together to present just the thing: the Off the Rails Summer Entertainment Series.

The free concert series returns Friday to the Burr Performing Arts Park in downtown Dalton after taking 2020 off because of the pandemic. In 2019, 10 concerts were held on consecutive Friday nights.

This year's series will continue every Friday through the end of June and return on Aug. 20 and Sept. 17. The concerts are considered family-friendly.

This first concert for 2021 will feature three acts beginning at 6:30 p.m., including headliner Music City Soul Breakers taking the stage at 8:30 p.m.

David Aft, one of the organizers, said the goal with this year's series "is to provide an offering that is connected to Dalton. We've found that the people who show up on Friday nights enjoy seeing people they know and hearing bands that they are familiar with."

Music City Soul Breakers has played at Burr Park before and "been very well received," Aft said.

Aft is president of the Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia. The Community Foundation along with the Creative Arts Guild, the Dalton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Downtown Dalton Development Authority (DDDA) present the concert series.

Given what we've been through, safety is no doubt still a concern for many. DDDA Program Coordinator Audrey Batts said people attending the concerts are encouraged to maintain social distance and to wear masks if that makes them feel more comfortable. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month said Americans "don't have to be as cautious about masks and distancing outdoors, and that fully vaccinated people don't need masks in most situations," The Associated Press reported.

We thank the organizers of this series for their thoughtfulness in creating it and adding to the quality of life of our community, and for their efforts to bring it back this year.

We encourage you if you want to hear some good music and can make it to take advantage of their thoughtfulness and get to Burr Park on these Fridays.

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