Music in the Park reaches 10 years

CJ Warson · Wednesday, August 2, 2017
The last Friday of July kicked off a month’s-worth of Friday night music in Ron-De-Voo Park, snuggly fit between the New Strand Theater and the West Liberty Foods Market.

Every Friday until the end of Aug. ,18 a different musical act will entertain audiences for free from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m.

“It was just a great venue to bring people downtown and in the spotlight of West Liberty,” Cara McFerren said. “It all sort of fell into place at one time and it’s been ten years.”

The West Liberty Area Arts Council (WLAAC) started scheduling Music in the Park back in 2006 as a way to promote the arts.

“It was just another way to get the arts council involved in the community,” McFerren said.

Just a year later in 2007, McFerren managed to get it set up so artists could perform right in Ron-De-Voo Park. A little while later the park was renovated and a tradition was truly born.

Thanks to the public WLAAC didn’t have too much of a problem finding acts for Music in the Park, a problem that can plague up-and-coming festivals.

“Pretty much through it was through all aspects of mouth or if somebody saw an act and they said ‘hey you have to listen to these guys’,” said McFerren.

A few years ago there was a shout-out sent on WLAAC’s website that rejuvenated the music for the special end-of-the-summer event. They try to get artists from all over the state and not just surrounding areas.

“There’s never a shortage,” said McFerren. “We just want to be able to highlight talent from within the community and then from surrounding communities to bring them here.”

“It’s just about making sure we have the venue set up and have the necessary utilities we need,” she added.

Thanks to its versatility, it doesn’t take that much to set up Ron-De-Voo park for the community to come and enjoy the variety of music that they bring in.

Music in the Park has really grown on the town’s people, it has peaked the public’s interest over the last decade which has helped to keep it going year after year.

“I think people expect it now,” McFerren said. “I think people would notice if it stopped. It’s sort of been a mainstay here that they know in the summer time when there’s consecutive Fridays that we offer this to the community. The interest has been growing.”

So why does the weekly music series kick-off every year in late July and carry on through August?

“I think there’s less to offer with events happening usually once May is done,” McFerren said. “You got school graduation and people are pretty busy. At the beginning of summer right out of the gate, you’ve got the bigger surrounding communities doing their festivals.”

Then comes the Muscatine County Fair, which caps summer break in West Liberty. With Picnic in the Park, the Fair Parade and more July gets incredibly busy.

“We start it at the end of the fair because generally that’s when things calm down and people are wanting to get out more and find something to do,” said McFerren.

The Music in the Park series ends about the time school starts in August, which obviously leads in the high school football season dominating Fridays.

But for the time being people can just enjoy a months-worth of Friday night Music in the Park listening to whatever music the council has scheduled.

“We just like it to be a variety,” McFerren said. “We like to have a mix. So we kind of gauge, what did we have last year and what were we laughing at. Let’s have a nice mix of variety this year.”

The council wants to continue what they have always been doing the past nine years. Nothing too special for their tenth year, just keep bringing the music the people love.

“We want to keep carrying on the tradition of getting a wide variety of talent to come and play,” McFerren said.

Make sure to come out this Friday for Ernie Peniston-Unplugged, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
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