December 1, 2021

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Concert series to return | News, Sports, Jobs

Michael D. McElwain
SET TO RETURN — The Summer Concert Series is set to return starting on May 31, organizers announced. Last year’s effort involved four concerts including The Fossils, which entertained a crowd of several hundred people on July 2.

STEUBENVILLE — The Summer Concert Series is back.

Beginning May 31 and continuing each Thursday through July, Historic Fort Steuben will serve as the backdrop to concerts under the stars at the Berkman Amphitheater — kicking off with a pair of oldies bands and fan favorites, The Stereos and The Vogues.

Director Paul Zuros figures the 2021 Summer Concert Series looks to be memorable.

“We are excited … absolutely thrilled to pieces to be able to do this again,” Zuros said. “I think everybody is so anxious to get out and do more things, to enjoy beautiful weather and listen to some great bands. This season, in particular, will be especially exciting because everybody’s been cooped up for so long. We have an opportunity to have our Summer Concert Series again, we’re forging ahead with a full schedule of concerts.”

Zuros said the concert series, now in its 15th year, has drawn some pretty exciting acts over the years, “and in 2021 we hope our visitors are just as excited about the line up as we are.”

“Last March, we did have a lot of events that were canceled. We only had four concerts,” he said. “But (we were able to host) Nutcracker Village, that was really very successful. Though we had a reduced number of people, we felt we could have these events safely. We always encourage mask-wearing, especially on fort property, and anytime people come inside our building.

Nutcracker Village drew just under 10,000 visitors during the 2020 holiday season — about one-third of what it normally attracts, but a strong response given the pandemic and state of the local economy. Zuros said visitation numbers “are slowly increasing as we continue to navigate through the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“We have such a great location down at the fort. Everybody can be outside and spread out,” Zuros said, “so I feel very confident we can have these events safely.”

He said they’re asking concert-goers to “follow health and safety protocols like mask wearing and social distancing when they come down to the events.”

Those attending should bring blankets or lawn chairs and spread out.

Zuros said they try to put together a concert schedule with broad appeal, working with Rick and Deb Witkowski of Studio L and Earl Tuttle of Ohio Valley Audio to select acts.

“We try very hard to (offer) a variety of (musical genres),” he said. “We really feel the concerts are a gift to the community: The concerts are free. We do pass the bucket because it takes about $25,000 to make the concert season successful, but we don’t really look at it as a financial thing.”

He said they know they’ve struck the right note, saying, “If we have people who really enjoy them, if we can see the joy on peoples’ faces and know they enjoy coming out and having a good time at the fort. It makes it all worth it.”

“We are so grateful for our sponsors who have helped make the 2021 Season possible and the many audience members who faithfully donate each week when the bucket is passed,” he said. “These concerts cost almost $25,000 to put on and it is through the generous donations of community members who help us keep the concerts a gift to the community.”

The Kessler Family continues as the major sponsor.

Old Fort Steuben Project President Jerry Barilla said the concerts are a wonderful event, “but we always have a watchful eye on the weather.”

“If there is a chance of rain in the forecast, we hope that it passes for show time otherwise we sometimes will postpone a show for another date,” Barilla said, adding that volunteers work hard to make sure the park looks its best for the concerts.

“We just couldn’t do it without our dedicated volunteers,” he said.

Zuros said he looks forward to seeing area residents filling the park again.

“I think music has the power to connect folks and bring the community together,” he said, pointing out that, “for the past 15 years, we have done just that.”

The 2021 concert schedule is:

∫ May 31: The Stereos; The Vogues

∫ June 3: East Street; The FANTASY’S

∫ June 10: Vince Villanova Big Band

∫ June 17: Blue Lunch

∫ June 24: Beatlemania Magic: Experience the Beatles

∫ July 1: The Fossils; Ron Retzer Trio

∫ July 4: Roz & Lynn; Spinning Jenny

∫ July 8: Silver Springs: Fleetwood Mac Experience; Eli & the Mojo Kings

∫ July 15: Faire May; The Joseph Sisters

∫ July 22: House of Soul

∫ July 29: The Marcels

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