Several weeks ago I sat at one of the Long’s Park music shows and had a whale of a time. The weather was wonderful, the 20 or so friends in our group brought awesome food to share and we listened to some great music. Maybe half of us could tell you who the band was – but that didn’t matter. We were happy. Everyone in the whole place seemed happy, too.
Given my experience, it is easy to see why the Long’s Park Summer Concert Series draws upwards of 100k people over 13 shows. That’s right – over 100,000 people come to Lancaster City to see free music!
While it is true that the concerts are in Lancaster City, the Long’s Park Series belongs to the suburbs. Long’s Park has the feel of a suburban park (you have to drive to it). The sponsors are suburban eateries, hotels and businesses, and not one city establishment is represented among the food vans on site. It is telling that the cars pulling out of the park after the show mostly turn west on Harrisburg Pike– away from the city and off to the ‘burbs.
There is nothing wrong with this, and the event need not change in any way!
What I do feel, however, is that that Lancaster City and the events that happen in the downtown core are missing an opportunity to market to tens of thousands folks that love a good time and love good music. A good time and good music sounds like Lancaster’s Music Friday to me.
It would be awesome to see a Music Friday banner next to the “suburban” signs hanging from the bandstand. Sure, the Long’s Park Foundation charges serious cash for the privilege, but what would it take to have the pre-show announcer give a little Music Friday shout-out all in the name of promoting the arts scene in arts city?
Not only do I think that the Long’s Park crowd would enjoy Music Friday, but I would argue that the Long’s Park crowd (i.e., a suburban crowd) is essential to the success of Music Friday. Indeed, the non-city crowd is not only what we need to ensure the success and sustainability of Music Friday, but a whole host of non-Fulton Opera House/non-First Friday events as well.
Surely a banner or an announcement is not the only thing needed to motivate folks to make the trip into town for a show, but those who produce events in the city (including Music Friday) need to think seriously about this issue. A little help from the Long’s Park folks may just be a good place to start.
Look for an interview with the Judy Smith, Executive Director of the Long’s Park Amphitheater Foundation about the Foundation’s 50th birthday celebration and fundraising efforts, coming soon to Around the Wood Stove!