Forget the lawn chair and mosquitoes and get ready to roll up the rug and dance in your living room.
The Lions Club’s annual tradition of free summer concerts continues – with a twist for 2020. For more than half a century, this program has featured, in most part, local entertainers performing in front of live audiences, but the pandemic has required the transformation to a virtual broadcast and taken the artists through a full recording session with a professional sound and video crew.
In the middle of May, most event organizers had resigned themselves to the reality gathering restrictions were not going to be lifted soon enough for this summer’s plans to be fulfilled. The Belleville Chamber of Commerce, which organizes two of the key city events in July between Canada Day and Waterfront, knew how disappointed the community would be without their food and music.
The chamber invited the Belleville Lions Club to consider a virtual event to replace their annual Concerts on the Bay. The history of the program is one of community partnership and this year brought together YourTV and the chamber to help ensure the annual tradition would continue while the current lockdown prevents live music performances or gatherings in the park.
Dating back to 1967 when the ANAF Veteran’s Association, along with a few keen citizens, had the vision to create a venue for enhancing the summer experience with the sound of music and with the support of several local businesses, a band shell was constructed. In 1993, The Belleville Lions Club was invited to participate in the program and the club adopted the concert series (formerly Music in the Park) as one of its community service projects. After 43 years, the band shell was replaced in 2011 with the beautiful Lions Pavilion.
Year after year, the Lions have been rewarded with the public’s overwhelming support at the concerts. In turn, the Lions wish to express their thanks and appreciation by endeavoring to provide audiences with the entertainment they have come to enjoy. This year, the concerts will be virtual – having been filmed by YourTV at Maranatha’s Youth Hall – and broadcasting on Sunday and Wednesday evenings from 6-8 pm.
The annual program kicks off Sunday evening with a virtual two hour performance by The Reasons, starting at 6 p.m. and featuring Ambush, on Wednesday, July 15. The concerts continue every Sunday and Wednesday evenings featuring 15 different performances through July until August 30 . Viewers can tune into YourTV or view them on YouTube, under Belleville Chamber of Commerce.
The Belleville Lions Club extends special thanks to all the sponsors for financially supporting this concert series. Their willingness and ability to remain on board this year has meant the world to musicians and entertainers; this may be the only performance this summer for many.
In a “pass the hat” tradition, viewers are also invited to contribute with an online (or mailed in) free-will donation to help the Lions Club continue with the valuable work they do throughout the community.
For a full listing of performances view the Lions website www.concertsonthebay.ca or follow them on Facebook www.facebook.com/BellevilleLions/