It’s Wednesday, and in my wee corner of the world, that means “Music in the Park”. Tonight was the “The Archers“. It was a big turnout – this is a popular group locally, especially because the boys all graduated from our high school last year. If you check the Archers website, the guy with the mop of blond hair? That’s Liam – I’ve known him since he was five, though he might not remember that. And he’s awesome on keyboard, by the way, though he mostly plays bass with the Archers. Anyway…
Each Wednesday through July and August, young and old from the community gather in Pioneer Park to listen to a different band. The music varies – folk, celtic, rock, jazz, and country. People bring chairs, blankets, strollers, wagons, dogs, kids and picnics. There are various food stands selling baked goods, bbq salmon, sausage in a bun, pizza, and juice, pop, and coffee. A couple of volunteers wander through the crowds throughout the evening, selling 50/5o tickets – $5 buys you an arm’s length, as measured by Brian’s arm. The proceeds of the draw go toward paying the band. Various local businesses also sponsor the event. The municipality sets up the bandstand and gets the park ready each week, and a group of volunteers organizes, fundraises and cleans up afterward.
It’s been a local institution for 12 years now. I have to secretly admit (can one be secret on a blog?), that I go less for the music than for the social scene, and I know that’s been the case for my kids. When they were small, it was a weekly opportunity to go totally wild with hordes of kids they knew. Huge games of manhunt would weave in and out of the crowd and around the corners of the park. Games of impromptu soccer would be set up behind the scout hall. Those balloon rockets that you inflate and then shoot upward and wait to see where they come down can startle unsuspecting adults who actually came for the music.
All these things still happen, but with a new generation of kids. Now that ours are teens, it’s more about walking around through the crowd, looking casual and cool, trying to spot friends without looking like they’re looking at anyone. It’s an evening without iPods and barely any texting . Families have their “regular” spot on the grass, like people who use the same church pew for generations, and because I grew up here, I can count on knowing at least half the faces I see. Best of all in the hot days of summer, the park has several large Douglas Firs, so that we are kept cool in the shade.
We could pay serious money for some of these bands that come to play, yet thanks to the longevity of the annual event, and the year round work of the organizers, we get to hear some really great groups, even if we don’t pay full attention while we gab with our neighbours. Great music, good food, friends and neighbours in the shade on a hot summer evening – it doesn’t get better than that.