Arts in the Parks’ 2021 opening: What a night! What a crowd!


The three photos above show just portions of the crowd, estimated at 1,000-plus, at the concert. (Including the Yorkie in the 2nd photo at bottom right. Can you spot it?)

Column and photos by WNLP’s Mike Kellems

In the famous movie “Field of Dreams,” actor Kevin Costner’s character hears a mysterious voice that repeats, “If you build it, they will come.” After witnessing the incredible turnout Thursday night for Arts in the Park, I have to believe that the late Kitty Wolf, a major force in creating the AIP program along with planning renovations to the amphitheater, heard something similar. I also have to believe that Kitty and her late husband, Bill, together on earth for more than 70 years, were together in Heaven Thursday wearing smiles that would light up the night sky after seeing the awe-inspiring turnout for the 2021 season kickoff of Arts in the Park.

Both big kids and little kids took the opportunity to groove to the music.

WNLP loyalists, I’m not exaggerating when I say the crowd numbered more than 1,000. People young and old were all over Fox Park, many in places where it was impossible to see the stage, yet they were content just listening to the music.

Local band Dr. Groovy and the Soul Surgeons, who have played at AIP numerous times over two decades, headlined the event. Fact is, the popular local group actually retired two years ago. But they returned to Fox Park Thursday much to the excitement of the stellar audience. They also played in honor of their longtime bandmate and friend, Greg Weiler, who passed away unexpectedly just 10 days ago. And the Billy-Elton tribute band delighted the sing-along crowd.

The 20th anniversary of the AIP program could not have been more special. Renovations to the Dennis F. Smith Amphitheater – including an improved concessions stand, bathrooms and additional dressing rooms – make the venue an even greater site for such events.

I suspect that after more than a year of folks being cooped up with little opportunity to get out and mingle with others, Thursday night was just what the doctor ordered.

Even with my wide-angle lens, I could not do justice to the size of the crowd. Three food trucks that constantly had lines stretched around, kids running around, loads of smiles on people’s faces … pretty special.

Tamara Mounce sings a beautiful rendition of the national anthem.

These youngsters, representing 20-year Arts in the Park sponsor Wolf Family Dentistry, use a giant slingshot to launch T-shirts into the crowd.

One Response to “Arts in the Parks’ 2021 opening: What a night! What a crowd!”

  1. Laportean

    Jun 04. 2021

    The music was great and easy to hear. However the speakers and emcee could not be heard. I hope that the sound system is worked on before the next program. Appeared to be trying to get audience participation but few were because couldn’t hear what was going on. Having the emcee stand on the ground rather than up on the stage was also a poor decision.

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