In a scene that’s been a long time coming, Philomath neighbors gathered outside on Thursday evening to take in some tunes, renew friendships and enjoy the late spring beauty of a local park.
The Music in the Park concert series kicked off and although the conditions were a bit windy, a fairly good crowd gathered at Philomath City Park with lawn chairs, blankets and smiles to listen to Double Play.
Park Advisory Board member Rose Bricker believes the concerts bring the community together.
“It gives people a chance to see our beautiful parks and see what Philomath has to offer and it provides a platform for community to happen,” Bricker said.
Dale Collins, the park board’s chair, believes it was very important for Music in the Park to happen this summer after the pandemic led to its cancellation in 2020. He’s watched the concert series grow from an experimental pilot program in 2016 into a valued event that folks enjoy every summer.
“I think it’s going to work out pretty good,” Collins said. “It gives people a reason to go out again. We’ve been cooped up for a year.”
The Music in the Park series is adding Sunday concerts for the first time this year after receiving a positive response from bands willing to play the Philomath venue.
“We had to add extra dates because we had too many bands,” Bricker said. “We got a great response from the community not only for involvement but also sponsorships as well. There were some bands that requested some sort of compensation and so we were able to find sponsorships fairly easily.”
Two bands requested compensation — Animism Ensemble on July 15 and DTW on Aug. 29. Republic Services and Dirt Road Brewing stepped up as sponsors to help bring them to town.
The concert series passes the collection jar at the events to help raise money for the Philomath Performing Arts Fund, a nonprofit organization that benefits music programs in local schools.
Collins recalls talking to a Philomath Elementary music teacher a few years ago about the event and asked, “If you could have your wish, what would you wish for? And he said ‘I would wish for every child to have the opportunity to have an instrument.’
“It’s a good thing for the kids,” Collins added. “Most of them (the bands) when I tell them about this (Performing Arts Fund), they say ‘we’re on board.’”
For the first time, local craft booths were part of the event and an old friend, the Lions Club, was busy at the grill selling burgers and dogs to those who skipped supper at home to take in the concert.
“We’re offering free booth space for our craftspeople that come in and want to sell their wares so I think it provides an opportunity for people who may have been through some hard times in the last year to kinda sell some stuff and meet people in the community,” Bricker said. “The Lions Club as well is doing some concessions, so I think it all brings different assets of our community together being able to be in a beautiful place like our parks.”
The first-ever Sunday concert is coming up May 30 with Michelle Dedman and Luke Painter scheduled to appear from 2-4 p.m. The free concerts take place in Philomath City Park’s gazebo area near Randy Kugler Community Hall.
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