Springfield Summer Arts Festival closes out 52nd season: Organizers already looking to next year

The Springfield Arts Council’s 52nd Summer Arts Festival drew an estimated 86,000 people to its 26 shows and special events in Veterans Park. Photo by Brett Turner

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The Springfield Arts Council’s 52nd Summer Arts Festival drew an estimated 86,000 people to its 26 shows and special events in Veterans Park. Photo by Brett Turner

Veterans Park’s stage is now bare, the speakers have gone silent and the lawn chairs and blankets stored away.

Memories and maybe some tunes are still in the heads of those who attended the Springfield Arts Council’s 52nd Summer Arts Festival. An estimated 86,000 people attended the admission-free, six-week festival. The show brought in 26 acts and special events from June 14 to July 21.

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“It was a good festival, it hit the entertainment on the head with good attendance,” said Tim Rowe, executive director for the Arts Council. “It’s nice that people still find the festival of interest after 52 years.”

The council’s fundraising goal of $62,500 wasn’t met, the first time in five years that’s happened according to Rowe. It fell short by roughly $2,200, which he hopes can be made up through the council’s annual campaign before the fiscal year ends Aug. 31.

Rainy weather the final two nights could have contributed to the shortfall, but there are other noteworthy factors, he said. Resurrection, a Journey tribute band, had the largest attendance at about 9,000 visitors. But in general other rock shows received less support.

Stayin’ Alive, a Bee Gees tribute band that performed on July 20, was plagued by rain. The performance brought in just 600 people and was one of the most expensive acts to hire, Rowe said. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Bluegrass Band had the highest per person donation night, but drew just 2,300 people, Rowe said.

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The four rock shows averaged about 6,000 people, including a good reaction to Snake Oil, the tribute that played covers of multiple hard rock acts.

“They’re contracted. None of these acts perform for free,” Rowe said. “We still pay them even if it’s raining.”

Grammy-winning group All-4-One rounded out the festival with a well-received show.

Sarah McPherson, the Arts Council’s development director, said sponsorship goals were met through new and continuing sponsors.

“We had quite a few new ones, which is always great, and continued support. This is how we can continue to put the festival on for free and we’re grateful to them,” she said.

Rowe said that no single sponsorship ever pays for an individual act. It’s a culmination of advertising, sponsorships and other fundraisers.

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“It’s a huge endeavor and we value all supporters of our festival,” he said.

The staff is already looking at next year’s festival dates and has booked about half the acts. Because some financial goals weren’t met, it could affect the budget.

The staff continues to look at presenting a variety of acts, with Rowe pointing to this season’s Mutts Gone Nuts as an example of a fun act that reached a wide demographic.

“We’ve always got new things coming and are working hard to keep this festival fun,” he said.

The Arts Council’s Broadway and Beyond season will begin in October. For more information or how to donate, go to www.springfieldartscouncil.org/.

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