An International Festival sponsored by the Refuge Cafe in partnership with YWAM Redding kicked off Thursday at the former YAKS on Hilltop Drive.
The festival features food, culture and fun and will run 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday-Sunday through Aug. 16, per a flyer announcing the event.
YWAM, or Youth With A Mission, is a global interdenominational Christian movement, according to its website.
It wasn't immediately clear whether the event had local health officials' stamp of approval. A representative for the Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency said the county hadn't heard of it but would look into it.
The state's COVID guidance does allow for outdoor worship and some indoor worship as long as there's social distancing and other practices in place, since religion is protected by the Constitution.
The ministry group said someone would be in touch to discuss the event's safety protocols.
A sign could be seen on the door asking people to wear masks. There were tables set up outside and live music was being played, but there were few people at the event early Friday evening.
Organizers at the event declined to talk to a Record Searchlight reporter.
Tawny Maxwell, a health care worker in the Redding area, said she still had concerns that the event was happening to support a nonprofit when many businesses are still shut down because of the virus.
"I’m not against anybody else’s beliefs," she said. "But being a health care worker and the fact that we're in a pandemic, I feel like there should be more accountability for gatherings like this."
Maxwell isn't the only one who's raised concerns about a lack of accountability for get-togethers in the time of COVID. A rodeo in Cottonwood and a crowded worship service at the Sundial Bridge both generated major conversation in the community.
While Shasta County Sheriff Eric Magrini has said he prefers educating people instead of enforcing COVID guidelines, the county's environmental health division did plan to take action against WaterWorks Park over similar concerns before it agreed to close early for the season.
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Alayna Shulman covers a little bit of everything for the Record Searchlight. In particular, she loves writing about the issues of this community through long-form storytelling. Her work often centers on local crime, features and politics, and has won awards for best writing, best business coverage and best investigative reporting in the California News Publishers Association's Better Newspapers Contest. Follow her on Twitter (@ashulman_RS), call her at 530-225-8372 and, to support her work, please subscribe.
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