Music lovers of all breeds show up for Rotary Park event

Rotary Park at Railroad Lake in Blue Springs was home to one band, several hundred people, dozens of dogs – and one lone cat – Sunday evening.

Among the kids throwing Frisbees, families playing volleyball, and children roller skating or biking, Bodacious, a pitch-black male cat, sat contently on the lap of his “momma,” Carl Greeno, listening to the band play. A veteran to the Blue Springs Music in the Park Concert Series, 1-year-old Bodacious has been coming to the weekly event since he was a kitten found in an abandoned car early last year.

“He has been here for 26 concerts,” Greeno says during set break, looking fondly at the cat who is sitting by the creek at the end of his red leash, munching on grass. “I think he likes the old-time rock and roll, but not really the heavy stuff.”

Bodacious, named after an old barbecue joint in Oak Grove, originally began attending the concerts with Greeno because he needed to be fed every four hours after he was found as a stray kitten.

“He’s really grown up healthier because of it,” Greeno said of bringing the cat to the concerts.

Taking to the event right away, Bodacious is now a regular at the scene, “freaking out” dogs with his unabashed approach and generally receiving the attention of the people around him.

While he “eats more grass than cows,” the dog-like feline will continue to frequent the event with his music-loving companion for the rest of the summer.

Blue Springs Music in the Park Concert Series is an annual 12-week-long outdoor music event that begins Memorial Day weekend. The free event is held Sunday evenings in Rotary Park from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and features a different band every week.

“I think this year we have even more variety (in bands),” said Doug Thompson, athletic/recreation supervisor for the Blue Springs Parks and Recreation Department. From blues, rock, country and classic ’50s and ’60s music, the lineup has appeal for all sorts of fans each week. 

Thompson has been organizing the series since 2002, and as a musician himself, Thompson’s own interest in music lead him to be involved the event. When he first became part of the tradition that has been going on for 20 years, there were only four bands that originally played. That slowly increased to 15 bands last year, but had to cut back to 12 this year because of the loss of some sponsorship.

Around 500 people attend the event on average every week, Thompson says, and the community’s response to the music has been very favorable.

“I run into people at Wal-Mart or other places, and they will ask me why it isn’t 15 weeks again this year or tell me that they can’t wait for it to start again,” he said. “It is just a really good way for people to come out and forget about the hustle and bustle of the world for awhile.”

With plenty of trees to shade against hot weather, the first two concerts of this year have been strong in attendance, Thompson said.

Different local businesses each sponsor a band, with Sunday’s event featuring CrossThread, a country-rock band presented by Fletcher’s J Bar S Western Wear.

Unlike previous years, the sound production is now sponsored so that bands do not have to provide their own, which makes it more clear and better to listen to, Thompson said. While this year was harder to get sponsorships because of the economy, he said, all-in-all the community businesses are very supportive.

“You can’t beat it,” Greeno said of the event. “It is free entertainment, family oriented and the weather is really nice. Sometimes it gets hot, but that is to be expected.”

The Music in the Park Concert Series is put on by the Blue Springs Parks and Recreation Department, and co-sponsored by Adams Dairy Landing, The Examiner and Zuvers Real Estate.

“We love it,” said Krissy Brown of Odessa, as she relaxed in a lawn chair next to the stage with her friend, Sonia Stayton, who agreed that this was their “summer thing. “This is our third year here. No one bothers you, no one gets out of hand, and it’s free.”