With the return of an old classic and cool but clear skies, the 2019 Performances in the Park series wrapped up last Thursday, Aug. 22.
A few hundred lakecity locals came out for the final show including the usual gangs of happy children playing with jump ropes, tennis rackets and more as their families listened to music. Food carts of all sorts were on hand to feed everyone including Cody’s Bannock, Taylor Made Cakes, Big Dog Hot Dogs and the Fennel Cup.
Opening up the finale night was the husband and wife duo of Andrea and Adam Zonnis, who provided an electrifying start to the night. Andrea provided clear and energetic vocals while Adam accompanied her enthusiastically on guitar and provided back up vocals.
This couple aimed to show that folk music isn’t boring and certainly accompanied that with an upbeat will and a gritty gusto.
Following them was the reunion of popular, longtime local band Creeshu, who have been rocking together on and off for the last three decades. Specializing in country and rock covers, this venerable and loved band brought along an entourage of fans.
Made up of Dave Noskey on the electric guitar, his wife Tanya on backup electric guitar, Sandy Carifelle on acoustic guitar and drummer Hilly Johnson, Creeshu gave the lakecity a familiar and feel-good sound to wrap up Performances in the Park. Some audience members even took to dancing in front of the stage in the cool evening air.
As the community bids farewell to Performances in the Park for another year, 2019 also sees the departure of longtime organizer and events manager Angela Sommer. A local music teacher and the proprietor of Angelkeys Music Studio, Sommer has been organizing this event for the last seven years on behalf of the Central Cariboo Arts and Culture Society, the Cariboo Regional District and the City of Williams Lake.
Sommer originally took the job back in 2012 at the last minute in May, as the previous organizer had to back out which he said was a hectic experience. Every year since, she’s helped put these shows on and grow them into the family-friendly event it is today.
“It was a lot of fun organizing it and I had a vision for the event. I wanted to include more young people, I wanted to give up and coming artists a chance and it’s such a nice event for the community to attend in the park on a Thursday night and I enjoyed doing it,” Sommer said.
Getting to work with different community members and getting to know all the artists who took part was really valuable for Sommer, as was the social aspect the community brought. She feels that many people come to the show as a chance to socialize, catch up and have dinner together while listening to live music and is something she herself certainly does.
While she loved all the community support she’s received organizing the event over the years, Sommer felt it was time to move on. Her reasons for leaving are two-fold, on the one hand, changes within her life have given her personal reasons to leave but on the other, the time she was busiest organizing the event was also the busiest time for her music students. As Sommer has gained many promising music students in recent years, she wanted to give them the time and instruction they deserve and she couldn’t do that and organize the event at the same time.
“It seemed a good time to say I’m done. There was no one big thing, there were multiple little decisions that needed to be made,” Sommer said.
Looking back on her final year as organizer Sommer has to say she is very proud of Williams Lake. Next to the smoke from the wildfires of 2017, weather-wise this was the worst year in the event’s history. Six of the eight nights had some form of rain yet despite that people still came out anyway and enjoyed the evenings.
To the future organizer of this event, Sommer had one main piece of advice: start planning your lineup and logistics early, as she used to, preferably in October. If you lay the groundwork early, she said it’s not that big of a deal to put everything together when the summer months come.
The CCACS put out a call for a new organizer for Performances in the Park in mid-July and have yet to announce Sommer’s replacement. This news is expected to come before October. What they will plan to do with the event, Sommer honestly does not know.
“It will be someone else that has that vision and they will follow that vision and I wish them all the best and I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with,” Sommer said.
In closing, Sommer would like to thank Leah Selk, the CRD, the City, the CCACS, business sponsors and all the volunteers and musicians who have helped make Performance in the Park what it has become over the last seven years. Most of all, she’d like to thank the community for coming out every Thursday night and enjoying some quality music.