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Park and Rec Commission ponders summer concert series

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KENT—Trying to decide when Kent residents would be most likely to attend a concert series proved difficult for the Park and Recreation Commission during its meeting April 4. 

New director Matt Busse said that the recent change of leadership makes it a good time to consider any changes in the concerts. Falling attendance in recent years has prompted commission members to contemplate different times and locations for the events.

Discussion centered on whether to continue to hold concerts on the Kent Land Trust field south of the village and whether to push the events into the fall season. Attention was also paid to whether the genres of music to be offered should be expanded.

Selectman Lynn Mellis Worthington, liaison to the commission, said that many town’s concert series are tied into other events, such as summer sidewalk sales. But then she noted that Kent’s concert series has traditionally focused on entertaining local people and that bringing it into the town’s center during sales days would change the concept. 

“When do local people have the most time—in the summer or the fall?” she asked. The consensus was that many people leave on vacation just after school recesses and in August. “I would think late August because people are back home and their kids are back in school,” said alternate Miranda Lovato.

Busse noted that recent summers have been wet, and that fall might offer better weather. But then a concert series would have to contend with fewer hours of daylight and compete with after-school activities.

Karen Iannucci suggested that summer attendance is easier for families. “In fall, the kids are going to school and you might not carefree feeling of summer.”

The group drifted toward the idea of having a family concert on the weekend following June’s graduation ceremonies with a bonfire and a band for young families. It was suggested that two concerts be held on the land trust grounds, two at Kent Common and two at the Town Hall. 

Worthington also suggested expanding genres. “We’ve been using the same ones, year after year,” she said. “It might be good to mix it up.”

In the end, the commission authorized Busse to go ahead and look at dates and bands for one concert each in June, July, August, two in September and one in October. He will also coordinate the schedule to avoid conflicts with library and fire department events.

In other business, the commission discussed summer t-ball and baseball. Recognizing that it will be difficult to find coaches, it was suggested that the recreation aides might be able to help. Busse said there is flexibility in their schedules but that waivers would be needed for them to handle money. 

Iannucci said that coaches always have someone they ask to cover for them if they cannot attend a game and that they might be able to suggest candidates. She also suggested high school students could help. Busse said he would reach out to Housatonic Valley Regional High School and the local private schools,

The commission laid out a fee schedule of $40 per child for residents; $45 for non-residents and a discount of $10 for a coach’s children. 

The commission had two vacancies—one for a regular member and one for an alternate. Two residents had volunteered to serve but the appointments were complicated by minority representation. A Republican, Independent or unaffiliated voter is required for one post and both candidates are Democrats.

Claire Love was appointed to the full position. The second candidate, Heidi Wilson, would be welcomed as an alternate if she chooses to change her party.

Camp Kent will run for six weeks, June 24-Aug 5, at Club Getaway.

Kathryn Boughton
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