conga

Attendees dance in a conga line at Summer in the Park.

Since 1987, Summer in the Park has been an ongoing concert series for the San Marcos community to enjoy. The San Marcos Performing Arts Association (SMPAA) has created what are now some of the most popular and anticipated community events in San Marcos including the concert series, an annual event for families and music lovers alike.

Barry Brittain, director of Summer in the Park, has been an event volunteer for 12 years now. He was formerly in a band that frequently participated in Summer in the Park and was recruited by the former director, Arlis Hiebert, after he stepped down. He has enjoyed giving back to the community and seeing people come out to enjoy the concert series.

“I think the biggest joy comes from just seeing the positive response from the community, and seeing people out in the park together as family units," Brittain said.

Summer in the Park board members plan the event from late November until the end of the year, carefully selecting the musical acts for each concert. Brittain goes to great lengths to find musicians who are unique in their craft by either having their own music or own interpretation on classics. To support local music, he selects artists within a 30-mile radius of San Marcos.

"Diversity of musical genre is is really primary, but also within that I want to make sure that the quality of the of the program is at a high level and that then encourages a nice big audience which is also appealing to the sponsors," Brittain said. "That all kind of comes together and trying to get done what we want to do, which is to have a great musical series and a free concert series for our community."

Rick Bowen, the president of SMPAA, has been helping to put on Summer in the Park since 2000. Over the past 22 years, he has thoroughly enjoyed witnessing family memories being made and the joy that radiates from the concert crowds.

This year, Bowen looks forward to watching bands and seeing community members have a good time. More specifically one of his favorites is Brave Combo who have been playing almost every year since 1992.

“I've never seen a band incorporate the audience, like they did. They have conga lines running through the entire park, they do the hokey pokey and they get everybody out of their seats – I mean everybody," Bowen said. "If you're not, you're wishing you were because it's jdancrtestust magnetic. The energy that they project and the professionalism that they do."

Summer in the Park is a free concert series open to anyone. The celebration is possible thanks to the Texas Commission on the Arts through the governors office and several sponsorships from community businesses and donors.

"This is really for the community and it's so heartwarming to see how the community steps up and supports us. We have banners on the stage and there will be two or three of the series sponsors out in the audience showcasing their businesses," Bowen said.

Both Brittain and Bowen are passionate about Summer in the Park and said they would quit before charging for admission. Keeping it free and sponsored so everyone in the community can enjoy it is important to the integrity of the event.

Lizzie Lempeotis, a Summer in the Park volunteer, is excited to partake in her second run with the event. She admires Brittain and Bowen's passion for making it all happen.

"Both of them have a lot that they've put into this event and that they've invested into this event," Lempeotis said. "And I think it's just really nice that [they] put forth that for the community."

Lempeotis heard about Summer in the Park from Brittain at a networking event and has been taking care of the social media accounts as well as helping create graphics and posters for the event. Being a lover of music, Lempeotis was drawn to getting involved, and she loves that it is also way she can give back to the San Marcos community.

“I like the community it brings together. I think it's a lot of fun when you go there because honestly, I've met a lot of different people,” Lempeotis said. “I've really enjoyed getting to meet people in the community… something about it just really feels like a community and really makes everyone feel kind of together. And I just think it's really nice. Just the whole vibe of it.”

The free concert series takes place every Thursday from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. until August 11 at San Marcos Plaza Park. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or towels and their own refreshments.

For more information on Summer in the Park, visit its website at https://summerintheparksm.org/ or visit its Instagram or Facebook @sanmarcossummer.

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