Mostly Sideways performed Sept. 22 at the final West Perth BIA Music in the Park event. Band members included Pete DeJong (left), Tom Burke, Bob Lauze, Phil Strong and Jim Ryan. ANDY BADER/MITCHELL ADVOCATE
For a first-time venture, organizers of the Music in the Park were more than pleased with the community’s response to their hour-long Sunday concerts.
The series of five concerts in Mitchell’s Lions Park, featuring different area musical groups, were held Sunday nights from 6:30-7:30 p.m. for the months of August and September with upwards of 175-200 in attendance each night.
“It’s been very well received,” said Coun. Cheri Bell during a recent West Perth council meeting, a member of the BIA executive which helped organize things along with BIA Secretary Trish McNaughton and others.
“I’ve heard nothing but good comments,” said Mayor Walter McKenzie who has attended some of the events.
The Downtown Mitchell BIA, in partnership with the West Perth Heritage & Culture Committee, hosted the music series at the Lion’s Park pavilion. One evening was postponed due to inclement weather, and was rescheduled for Sept. 22.
The municipality hoped to use their Sesquicentennial legacy project, the Sofina Family Foods Pavilion in Lions Park, as the location for the concerts, but various delays prevented that from happening. Ironically enough, the new pavilion – literally across the road from the Lions pavilion – is getting close to completion and should be ready for next year’s Music in the Park, as initial plans are underway to continue in 2020.
Each event had a special sponsor as well: Walther’s IDA Pharmacy, Tim Hortons, JP Uniac Insurance, Dental Hygiene Clinic, Monteith, Ritsma & Phillips LLP, The Optimist Club of Mitchell and Bornholm Produce.
Coun. Bell said she was talking to a resident who had been to all the area summer free concerts not just West Perth’s, and she said the ones in Mitchell were the only ones she had been to that organizers did not pass the hat in search of donations, “which she thought was amazing.”
Mayor McKenzie offered that perhaps that’s something that could have been done to offset costs, but Coun. Bell said having the sponsors allowed these to be exactly as advertised – free concerts.
“The businesses pay a levy and the levy they pay is for us to do community and business improvements,” she said. “When we have businesses who are jumping on board giving their money and their time, it’s really not conducive to turn around and pass the hat.
“We’re either going to do one [pass the hat], or we’re going to do the other,” she said.
Things might be different if the Heritage & Culture Committee hosted the events all on their own, she noted, where they don’t have necessary funds in their budget. It could be something that’s looked at in the future, she conceded.
“For now we were quite pleased to hear that we were the only ones that don’t pass the hat,” she said. “We’ve been able to manage it all on our own.”