People rise before dawn to stake their places, plan vacations around it, arrive early to socialize and experience summer outdoors while enjoying admission-free entertainment.
Springfield can’t get enough of the Summer Arts Festival, and the Springfield Arts Council will again deliver a diverse lineup for its 53rd season, beginning June 13 at Veteran’s Park.
New and returning favorite tribute acts, youth and adult musicals, hometown entertainers, acrobats, family games and other attractions will be spread over six weeks.
The puzzle of putting together a free festival is a year-round venture for the Arts Council, which also balances its Broadway and Beyond season, Youth Arts Ambassadors program and several special events.
“We try to offer something for everybody,” said Arts Council executive director Tim Rowe. “Rock tributes are always popular, but we also try to stay true to our roots with Broadway in the Park, Youth Ambassadors shows, the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, and things for families like KidsFest and Mutts Gone Nuts.”
The season will kick off with an old friend of the festival and a native son - singer and songwriter Griffin House on June 13. He’ll have new music such as his current single “Natural Man.”
Weeks two and three will also spotlight local talent starting with “Legally Blonde - The Musical” as the Broadway in the Park selection. The Springfield Symphony Orchestra, which has performed at every single Arts Festival, will be back, and the Youth Arts Ambassadors will present “Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man, Jr.”
Tribute acts are a festival staple and fresh ones will populate the schedule. Rowe anticipates Queen Nation - A Tribute to the Music of Queen, as a big draw given the success of the Oscar-nominated film “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Other new tributes include ABBAmania, which will feature a guest tribute to Cher; Overnight - The Boy Band Tribute; Homeward Bound - The Music of Simon and Garfunkle; Madrigal - The Ultimate Carlos Santana Experience; and rounding out the festival, Satisfaction - The International Rolling Stones Tribute.
The Boy Band Tribute was put together by an original member of boy band 98 Degrees. The woman performing as Cher in AbbaMania also looks uncannily like the real thing and will replicate what Cher does in the “Mama Mia” sequel.
Homeward Bound features brothers Alex and Nic Chamberlain, who have performed here in tributes to classic rock acts and will be their first time in the park.
Returning tributes include The Motown Sounds of Touch; Parrots of the Caribbean; Snake Oil - A Theatrical Tribute to Rock’s Biggest Stars; and Stayin’ Alive - The World’s #1 Tribute to the Bee Gees.
Two new tributes will play music past audiences have responded to: Absolute Journey Tribute and The Purple Madness - America’s #1 Prince Tribute.
According to Rowe, Absolute should please audiences. He reviewed the act and found they looked and sounded great.
“Each season, potential acts for the festival are reviewed by a committee of Arts Council board members based on what the committee feels the audience will enjoy,” he said. “Selections are often subject to the artists’ availability, travel routing and fees. It’s a several-month process to make all the pieces fit.”
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Family fun will include the return of Mutts Gone Nuts Canine Cabaret that charmed audiences in 2018. New event FamBlitz Live! is an interactive game show similar to those popular on Nickelodeon years ago. It’s sponsored by Springfield’s Nehemiah Foundation.
Add in special events including the returning Sip of Summer wine and beer tasting, Parrothead Party in the Park and Burgers and Brews weekend, a new twist on a former event, and it gives area residents some warm thoughts to get through the last few weeks of winter.
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