February 14, 2016

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Downtown weekend events needed

Published 8:34 am Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Since the phrase “Build it and they will come” became wildly popular with the 1989 Kevin Costner movie “Field of Dreams,” it’s been applied to most every attempt that involves a risk with no guaranteed return.

When organizers several years ago came up with the idea for the Summer Concert Series on the lawn of the Old Capitol, who would have known the every-other-Friday-night event would become something of a social destination far beyond a free concert on a typically steamy evening.

The 2015 series began Friday night, and estimating the number of people in town would be nearly impossible. Suffice it to say, St. Clair and Broadway were a bubbling cauldron of activity well beyond the stage on the steps and the sponsoring Farmers Bank banner at the historic Old Capitol.

Shops were open, outdoor seating at restaurants was at a premium, vendors were set up along the sidewalks selling food, folks were mingling — and then there was the music.

It occurs to us that perhaps someone could have a “dream idea” for the alternate weekends in the summer, maybe even the Saturday nights of all weekends. All of the “players” — and we won’t try to mention the various agencies — are forever and a day trying to draw more people to town.

Maybe, just maybe, the key might be more activities like the Summer Concert Series. Solicit ideas from fellow citizens, have a brainstorming session, put the “what would you like to see” question on every social media site available. There’s absolutely no telling what might be floated. Even if it’s another concert, music is like food — you can eat a meal and be hungry in a few hours; listen to some tunes and have a desire for more.

While the “event” is certainly the catalyst for the gathering, it’s the people coming together that make it happen. It’s food and beverage being available that satisfies hunger and thirst, shops being open to offer wares … back around to it all beginning with an event.

We thought about mentioning parking, but we’re certain the powers that be can ensure garages and lots will be open for patrons.

While not necessarily the best business model to build whatever it is and just “expect” folks to come, most every venture begins with a dream. So let’s start dreaming and we rather expect from that will emerge events that will fill up the weekend nights all summer long — not just every other Friday.