Summer Concert Series

TRAPT plays at the Village Green during the 2019 Summer Concert Series.

The Ripon Summer Concert Series at the Village Green will not occur this year as was once hoped.

Though organizer Ripon Main Street Inc. had been holding out hope to offer at least part of the season later in the summer, its board made the decision Thursday morning to cancel the entire 2020 lineup.

“The way the season was scheduled for 2020, almost all of the bigger bands — the bands that would draw the largest crowds — were scheduled for late July and August,” Ripon Main Street Manager Craig Tebon said. “We just didn’t feel we could proceed with those events given the county’s and the state’s guidelines for hosting large events.

“And, quite honestly, we didn’t want to be the group that introduces COVID into those events.”

Six concerts were scheduled for the coming weeks, starting with the Zac Matthews Band Friday, July 24.

Notable performances slated after that included two popular regional acts, Road Trip (July 31) and Cherry Pie (Aug. 14), and a nationally known band, Saving Abel (Aug. 28).

“We had so much buzz with all these bands, and it would have been fun,” Tebon said.

The concert series’ biggest names typically pack the Village Green at the corner of Watson and Seward streets, even spilling out into the street. Tebon explained that this kind of crowding didn’t seem wise at this time.

“It was a tough decision, because especially this was probably the best lineup we ever had,” he said.

Initially, Ripon Main Street canceled the performances for June through mid-July when the coronavirus pandemic first hit.

“We thought that if we could start up with Road Trip, we could have salvaged a part of the season and we could have salvaged a part of our revenue that we anticipated generating for the events,” Tebon said.

The financial hit to Ripon Main Street will be heavy.

The organization anticipated $12,000 in revenue from the series, based on recent years’ revenue.

“The concerts were actually helping to continue to help the downtown revitalization movement,” Tebon said.

Not only has it lost those dollars, but it also won’t recoup dollars already sunk into this year’s concert series for early marketing efforts.

And then there’s the more difficult question of how a lack of concerts impacts downtown from an exposure and visitor standpoint.

“I know we had a lot of concert attendees who came in ... from out of town for dinner and a concert ...,” Tebon said. “It will impact things a little bit, it’s just hard to quantify what that actually is.”

If a silver lining exists, it’s that Ripon Main Street now is ahead as it plans for next year’s schedule.

“So far, with the exception of a couple bands, everybody is lining up again, at least tentatively,” Tebon said, noting that one never knows if every band will still be together next year, or what the state of the pandemic will be.

In the meantime, Ripon Main Street is moving forward with several smaller events this summer.

“It’s not technically a Main Street event, but Women on Watson this weekend — it’s a smaller event, should be COVID friendly. It doesn’t really attract a lot of people so social distancing should be possible,” he said.

Then, on Saturday, July 25, Main Street has plans for another one of its “shop-live” Facebook events to support Ripon merchants’ e-commerce platforms.

A Wine Walk, rescheduled from spring, also could return Friday, Aug. 7.

“We’re also working with the city to make this a COVID-friendly, social-distancing event as well,” Tebon said.

The biggest event still planned, though, comes Saturday, Aug. 8, when Scoop the Loop returns for the second time after being banned for decades.

“We still believe we can do scooping the loop; we feel that’s a social-distancing event,” Tebon said.

Though excitement may exist for these events, Tebon admits canceling the Ripon Summer Concert Series was difficult.

“It was hard to give up on the season,” he said.

Ian Stepleton is the editor of the Ripon Commonwealth Press, and been with the paper since September 2000. Starting with fall 2016, he also is an adjunct professor of journalism at Ripon College, and advisor to the college's newspaper, the College Days.

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