I had no idea that the Blue Springs Music in the Park event was so old.

I had no idea that the Blue Springs Music in the Park event was so old.

This thing started in 1987 – when I was a freshman in high school! Back then, there were as many as five bands who got together at Rotary Park at Railroad Lake and played free shows under the cool Missouri stars. I wish I would have known this back then – I would have mounted my bike and made the trek out Interstate 70.

Seriously, folks – this little Sunday outing in Blue Springs, which starts May 29 and goes through Sept. 4, is pretty special. For me personally, it unites two of my most treasured activities: going to a park and listening to music.

And the word “free.”

Back in 2002, when Doug Thompson, athletic supervisor for the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, assumed his new job, there were about five bands. They played over the course of a couple of weekends and that was it. Slam-bang and it was over.

Fast-forward nine years and Thompson and organizers have assembled what has to be their best lineup yet. Eighteen bands – yes, 18 – are stretched across the late spring, summer and early autumn seasons.

In the past, the majority – if not all – of the bands were local or metro-close. Recognizing the event’s popularity, Thompson stepped out of his comfort zone and tracked down bands that are nationally known.

“We wanted to make it a bit different this year,” Thompson said.

Here’s a taste of what you can expect:

On June 5, the David Mayfield Parade rolls into down. This act is so big and so significant for the city that the city fronted the cost of bringing it here and Fletcher’s J Bar S Western Wear will reimburse later.

To give you an idea of how popular this act is, the band is part of the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee, which boasts acts including Eminem, Gregg Allman, Stephen Stills, Neil Young, Primus, Widespread Panic and The Black Keys. Their latest album was nominated for a Grammy.

Even more interesting is that the founder, David Mayfield, grew up in Kent, Ohio, where I lived and went to college. It’s a small world, I guess. Maybe I’ll give the guy a call and talk about Ohio.

On July 17, Livy High, an alternative band from Kansas City, will make its presence known.

“We wanted to liven it up a bit,” Thompson said.

The Texas-based Eric Tessmer Band rolls into town on Aug. 28. Thompson said the band plays some mean, hot blues, which will complement the expected weather at that time of the year.

The Eric Tessmer Band is one of several bands comprising “double billing” shows. Thompson said organizers wanted to offer as much entertainment as possible during select weekends.

“It’s a way of offering as much as possible.”

There are more bands, and there are still the same offerings when it comes to food, but I guess that’s the point.

“Really, everything you could want is already there,” Thompson said. “There’s the park, the music, a little food... It makes for a nice family atmosphere.”

For a complete list of concerts, visit the city’s website at www.bluespringsgov.com

Recycle Your Garage Sale

I’d like to briefly mention an email I received from Greta Hoener, an art teacher at James Walker Elementary School.

On April 30 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., the school will be having its first Recycle Your Garage Sale event.

Donations to the garage sale include coats, shoes, purses, household items, electronics, furniture and garden items.

Clothing donations will not be accepted. All donations are tax deductible. Purchasing items is also by donation or suggested donation.  

You can drop off items April 28 and 29 from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the school. EnviroStar Waste Service has donated bins to store the items. The Ozanam Pathways Program has volunteered to pick up items after the sale.

The school is raising money for solar panels and a wind turbine, which will be a part of the sculpture garden, which is another article/column for the future.