Free concert series at Rock Fence Parks starts this weekend

Published 4:04 pm Monday, April 24, 2023

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Get ready to rock, Jessamine County.

This weekend, locals and visitors can attend the first show of the 17th annual free summer concert series at Rock Fence Park hosted by Nicholasville-Jessamine County Parks and Recreation.

Saturday, April 29, marks the start of the series with the Blacktop Rodeo band, labeled the “hottest country band going right now,” according to Teg Evans, owner of Shindig! Music Productions and producer of the summer concert series. A new stage will be unveiled and dedicated to an exceptional individual at the show.

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Each show will begin at 7 p.m. at Rock Fence Park at 306 N. 3rd Street.

The lineup is as follows:

• May 13 – 100th US Army Jazz Ensemble – Jazz, big band.

• May 27 – Heritage Messengers – A southern gospel quartet.

• June 10 – Kelly Caldwell & Kashmere – 80s revival rock.

• June 24 – Central Kentucky Concert Band – Show tunes, theater tunes.

• July 8 – The New Coon Creek Girls – Nationally-touring country band.

• July 22 – DSB&R Reunion Show – Older soft rock, notes of country and gospel.

• August 5 – Men of a Certain Age – Classic rock.

Concessions will be available at each show. June 24 will be a wine and cheese night. The park has two playgrounds for kids to enjoy. For those driving, parking is available on 2nd St. behind the park and scattered on the streets around the courthouse. For handicap assistance, call 859-351-5557.

Parks and Recreation Director Duanne McCuddy, has been involved with parks and recreation for 21 years. He said it was former Magistrate George Dean and the former parks and recreation director who pushed the idea and found the ideal location.

“We decided that rock fence park was a pretty place for it – nice shady trees in the summer and it’s near downtown,” McCuddy said.

The location is excellent for those living in the neighborhood surrounding the park- a whole night’s worth of entertainment is just a walk away for them. Evans even has a friend that enjoys the show from her backyard. “Sherrie Keller-Paulie lives in a big, beautiful house right across the street from the park. So when we’re doing soundcheck, I send Sherrie a text and ask, ‘Hey Sherrie, how’s it sound in your backyard?’” Evans said.

Since the beginning, Evans has led the charge when it came to organizing the most important part of the show: the musicians. Evans doesn’t receive payment for his work in organizing the series each year, he said it’s his way of doing community service, or “Whatever you want to call it.”

Evans organizes people he’s worked with, some of which are good friends of his, to provide free music to the Jessamine County community.

Although Evans provides music contacts at a discounted rate, much of the audio equipment, and a sound engineer, Parks and Recreation uses its budget to pay for everything else. Each year, they put aside money for the annual event. Even with a discount from friends of Evans, the musicians don’t perform for free, and some years are harder than others.

“There have been years where there’s very little budget money, and we’ve had to kind of beg people to come out and play for $50 bucks and whatever tips we can pick up,” Evans said.

In general, this operation is organized on what Evans calls a “shoestring” budget. This year, Parks and Recreation received a bit more money, allowing the team to replace their old stage at the park. The series started in a small pavilion, and the stage that was replaced was nearly 13 years old. Evans said the old stage had repairs but was clearly on its way out. The stage should be finished by the first show on Saturday.

Locals aren’t the only ones interested in shows. People from all around the central Kentucky area- and even a family in northern Kentucky- drive down just for dinner and a show.

“We feel like it’s grown just about every year we see more and more people. We enjoy the shows and I think the community does also,” McCuddy said

“It’s kind of like when a flower seed lands in the middle of the yard and it just starts growing,” Evans said, “I guess it’s just a way of doing something for the community. I’m really proud of what we’ve done.”