Long a popular and pleasant Sunday evening destination for area residents and visitors, Pickerington’s Summer Concert Series in Sycamore Park Amphitheater saw its attendance dwindle this year and city officials are investigating the overall feasibility of the event.
Pickerington City Councilwoman Christie Hammond broached the issue during the Pickerington City Council Safety Committee meeting Nov. 8.
“I have long been an attendee at the Sunday night concerts the last few years,” Hammond said. “Our attendance has been dropping (so we need to) shake things up a little bit,”
There are various reasons for the attendance drop, including the event is on Sunday evenings and “people have other things” going on, she said.
Pickerington Parks and Recreation Director Rebecca Medinger said the quality of the musical offerings is not the issue because the Summer Concert Series presents known acts that appeal to diverse tastes.
“We bring in oldies and new acts to see if that creates interest,” Medinger said, “but with both old and new (bands) we’re not seeing any increase.”
Cutting back on the number of shows from the current once a week to once a month is a possibility, she said.
“One of my suggestions is kind of cut back to once a month to get a bigger attendance since it’s not every week,” Medinger said.
She said reaching out to Pickerington Community Theatre “to see if they want to put on a play” is another option.
Chris Gallaugher, the theater troupe’s publicity director, said the organization would be receptive to that idea.
A sketch comedy improv troupe or a Broadway song series could be popular draws, he said.
“It certainly would be a lot cheaper,” Gallaugher said. “We would be happy to talk about it. All we need is a stage and sound system.”
The city has budgeted $18,000 for the 2018 Pickerington Summer Concert Series. Medinger said the city is planning to schedule eight concerts for the season.
The event remains without a presenting sponsor since Giant Eagle discontinued funding the event prior to the 2013 season. The city has been without a sponsor since that time.
Movie series big draw
On the other hand, Friday Night Flicks, the free summer movie series sponsored by Fairfield Federal, is a popular draw, bringing in about 300 people per event, Medinger said.
City Councilman Tony Barletta suggested the city look at how other communities promote and present their concerts.
“We should network to see what other communities are doing differently,” he said. Medinger said the free Summer Concert Series also struggles to bring in a food vendor.
“The (vendor) gets to the first or second week and says ‘I’m not making money,’ ” she said. “People are bringing their own food. We’ve had (vendors) sell ice cream and snow cones, but even those guys are pulling out.”
As for now, the city remains committed to budgeting for the eight concerts in 2018. but will continue to look at ways to improve attendance, said Medinger.