A Fox Valley event is so great, it has to happen twice a year. Only Mile of Music’s New Year’s Encore Eve event is a scaled down version of its big summer festival. But this year’s New Year’s Eve party will be an even smaller version, thanks to COVID.

For seven years, the Red Lion Hotel has hosted Mile of Music’s New Year’s Encore Eve event. With COVID cases again on the rise, though, there’s a new venue this year.

“After having a conversation with them, we were just concerned about having a large New Year’s Eve event, and we decided, ‘Let’s still have the New Year’s Eve event, but make it a little bit smaller,’” Mile of Music festival curator Dave Willems said.

The New Year’s Eve event at the hotel typically sees upwards of 900 people in attendance. Significantly fewer partygoers can fit inside the Gibson Community Music Hall, where the festivities will now be moved to.

“It’s a pretty significant change but, again, in this particular venue, 125 or 150 people will still make for a very nice New Year’s Eve celebration,” said Willems.

After having to change the location, there were concerns and talks about canceling the event altogether but, with the protocols in place at Gibson and with it being a smaller venue, organizers say they’re happy to let the shows go on.

Willems says, one of the requirements to get in is showing proof of COVID-19 vaccination or proof of a negative test within 72 hours of the start of any event.

“For a lot of us that do events and put on events, it’s a tough time right now – there is no one right way to do something, and there’s no one right way to do stuff that’s gonna make everyone happy,” he said.

New Year’s Encore Eve will kick off Dec. 31 at 8 p.m. and will end with an Auld Lang Syne sing-along with the bands at midnight.

This year’s concert celebration features three original bands that were fan-favorites at Mile 8 this past August.

To purchase tickets, visit Mile of Music’s website.