For a time on Monday evening it sounded as though the Ceres City Council was poised to scrap the Concerts in the Park series for flailing attendance. But as the discussion went on, members gave direction to reduce the number of concerts from five to two larger and rebranded events.
For the past 32 years the city has offered summer concerts in Whitmore Park but Recreation Manager Matthew Lohr noted attendance has waned in past years. He said a farmer’s market and barbecued meals have done little to boost attendance. He asked if the council wanted to go a different direction, such as possibly offering movies in the park.
The city has budgeted $4,500 to pay for six bands to perform and $1,500 for marketing.
Showing movies would require $5,500 for equipment and pay about $4,000 to show five movies.
“I’ve sat on the Concerts in the Park Committee for my sixth year, and every year the interest in the committee has dwindled,” said Vice Mayor Linda Ryno. “I’ve noticed the audience has dwindled.”
She said the last concert drew about 30 people.
“My personal feeling is we need to take a break from the concerts,” said Ryno. “I just can’t see spending that much money and staff time when you’re getting 30 people there. And I don’t know that I would be ready to spend that kind of money for movies in the park right away.”
She suggested skipping a summer and see if that spurs a renewed interest for 2021.
Councilman Bret Durossette suggested maybe reducing concerts to two and serve brews from local craft breweries like Blaker Brewing.
“If you lose it one year, it’ll never come back,” he said.
Lohr said the time of 6 p.m. on Tuesday evenings might not work for a lot of families. He suggested Friday or Saturday nights and “upping” band and sound quality.
Ryno changed her position and suggested the city could host two concert events with possibly renamed something like “Brats and Brew.”
Councilman Mike Kline added his feeling that he doesn’t want concerts to be cancelled, saying the program will forever be lost.
Lohr and his staff said they will brainstorm ideas for two new rebranded events.