Hitting the right notes

Friday, March 19, 2004

Plans for a second summer concert series in Marshall, bringing in nationally-known acts, are a go, thanks to an agreement announced this week.

It's been apparent to many that trying to stage more concerts in Indian Foothills Park on the scale of last September's Willie Nelson performance would be a tough sell. Many were pleased with the chance to draw such a big-name event to Marshall. Many were pleased with how the event actually went and most everyone was pleased with the economic benefits such a concert has -- hotel rooms sold, gas and meals purchased, etc.

But many were leery, to one degree or another, of turning over a section of the city's main public park to a private entity. There were assurances that a proposed fence would have gates that would be open except on concert days. There was a provision in the contract to return the hillside to its original state despite requests to erect a larger stage and pour concrete for areas such as a loading dock and some seating.

Still, concerns including the length of the contract, what type of concerts would be booked and limitations on the public's use of the rest of the park on concert dates were part of the undoing of this year's negotiations between promoters and the Park Board. The Park Board didn't act as quickly as the promoters would have liked, but it also did its job in being conservative with the use of a public resource -- Indian Foothills -- entrusted to its management.

The deal allowing the concerts to be staged at the fairground keeps the events -- and the money they'll bring -- in Marshall and that's good news for all residents and businesses. The deal should also provide a boost for the fair association as it looks to continue improvements to the fairground and buildings, used on many dates outside the annual fair, by the way.

It appears everyone ended up with something they can be happy with and Marshallites should support the summer entertainment choices -- everything from the aquatic center at the park to possibly taking in an evening with Aretha, CCR or Vince Gill and company. If we do, we can make Marshall a draw for the region and be an example of a harmonious community.