Friday, August 23, 2019

Tomah city council approves concert series

Live music and downtown economic development will join forces this summer in Tomah.

The Tomah City Council approved a  summer concert series at its meeting Tuesday night.

Tomah Chamber of Commerce president Tina Thompson outlined some details on six concerts that are planned July 4, July11, July 18, Aug. 1, Aug. 8 and Aug. 15. The Tomah Chamber and Visitors Bureau have been working to develop a concert series with a twofold goal offering live entertainment and a focus on getting people to Tomah's downtown.

"We want to make it family friendly, engage our community and bring people in from outside Tomah," Thompson said.

According to his report to the council, city administrator Roger Gorius said Tomah police chief Mark Nicholson has inquired into possible use of a Superior Avenue corridor during each concert date.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has indicated at this time the ability to close a section of Superior Avenue for each date. The plan calls for the stage set up to be in the 800 block of Superior Avenue. Traffic would be detoured in the same pattern when Superior Avenue is closed for Tomah's Fourth of July and holiday parades, Nicholson said.

The time frame would be approximately from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. which would include set up and tear down for the event.

"We wanted a visible location and thought Superior Avenue is the best location," Thompson said.

The series is part of an economic development initiative for Tomah's downtown. Work is expected to start on installation of new street lights this summer. Tomah welcomes the addition of Vino Anjo wine bar in the 800 block.

That and ongoing work on the Tee Pee Building, which features Murray's On Main, set to open next week.

"We feel 2019 is the year for our downtown," Thompson said.

The Chamber is committed to build the event, Thompson said a five year contract has been signed with a company to book bands. There are no plans for admission. Thompson said the Chamber will be working to secure sponsorships to offset costs.

When asked by a council member, Thompson stressed the intent for the event is to compliment the established Americana in the Park summer music. Those dates have traditionally been on Wednesday nights through the summer in Gillett Park.

Press release tells more

In a release issued Wednesday by Thompson, she said the Wisconsin DOT approved the request in late February.
The concert series will be on Thursday evenings from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (time bands will perform).  Thompson said bands will not be local as not to compete with Americana Music in the Park, which is a separate and well lauded community event.

“Americana Music in the Park is a wonderful community event featuring area artists and the richness of our local musical culture.  Our event will feature out of the area musicians and, at the root of it, is focused on economic development and increasing the traffic in Tomah’s downtown…we’re just using music as the catalyst," she said. 

Chamber officials were able to meet with leadership from Americana Music in the Park and all parties agreed to move forward with their scope of work with the spirit of collaboration and Tomah’s best interests at heart.
“2019 is the year for Tomah”, said Thompson at the Tuesday night meeting.  “We’ve been building up to this point for years. We’ve done the downtown master plan, we’ve done the surveys, we’ve done the planning…this is our year to implement.” 

The concert series will be a family friendly affair with a “kid zone” featuring games and fun activities for children, but will also have food vendors and beer sales for the adults.  The event will be free and open to the public. Sponsorship and volunteer opportunities are available to businesses and organizations.

Thompson signed in to a five year contract for this event with the belief that this will grow throughout the years, bringing significant impact to Tomah’s economic profile. 

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