The first time I went to an Arts in the Park Concert, in 2013, I was amazed. Heather Masse, a member of the Wailin Jennys, was playing and I still couldn’t quite accept the fact that the concert was free. My husband and I walked up to the Larry Norvell Band Shell and found a seat amongst smiling neighbors who brought their kids, or their dogs, or their picnic blankets, and were relaxing and laughing during a nice evening in the park. I thought “She probably won’t play for very long. This is a little too good to be true.” I was wrong.
Heather brought an entire band with her and played for two hours. She knocked my socks off and I think my husband and I grinned the entire time. Every once in a while we looked up to the treetops and watched the bats zipping and diving for bugs, then watched the kids dancing in front of the stage, then just sat back and enjoyed this very fine group of musicians play. All for free. All right here in our own City Park.
Since then, I’ve been telling everyone about Arts in the Park. Everyone I met at the Kansas Sampler Festival in April got a spiel. I spread the word around the library every week, and now I’m telling you.
The full Arts in the Park schedule, as well as the Municipal Band schedule, is available on the City of Manhattan website. All the shows take place at the Larry Norvell Band Shell in City Park, located near the intersection of N 11th Street and Fremont St. All the concerts are free and open to the public.
The Wailin Jennys are playing this Friday, June 6 starting at 8:00pm, by the way. You won’t be disappointed, trust me. Other artists on the schedule include The Big Time Grain Company, a rockin’ country band from Kansas City and Randy McCallister, a Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter from Texas. And then there’s the Little Apple Music Festival on August 2, which will feature an entire lineup of great bands. The festival is sponsored by the KSU Union Program Council as part of Rhythm and Brews weekend and will include a kid-friendly area at the park from 6-9pm. Look for us there—the library will have a table indoors with a cool craft for kids.
Plus, the Municipal Band plays throughout the summer, too! Dr. Frank Tracz, Professor of Music and Director of Bands at K-State, conducts an impressive group of musicians who play a new set every week. If you didn’t think there were enough fun, free, family-friendly activities in town, I hope you are now officially amazed.
By the way, after the concert last year, Heather stepped off stage and came out to greet everyone. I shook her hand and asked her to sign my CD, which she did with a smile. Manhattan is such a wonderful place to live!