Thumper Entertainment plans for a June concert in Stephens Lake Park

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 | 4:40 p.m. CST; updated 12:11 p.m. CST, Thursday, January 5, 2012

*CORRECTION: The city charges a fee to groups who use city parks for events. The fee is $2.20 per adult and $2.05 for each child. An earlier version of this story misstated the fee structure. Thumper's event is in part targeting a young crowd, in the 18- to-34-year-old range. The earlier version of this article also misstated this age range.

COLUMBIA — Thumper Entertainment presented early plans for a summer concert in Stephens Lake Park to Columbia City Council members before the start of Tuesday night's meeting.

The concert is planned for 5 to 11 p.m. June 16 and would be set up on the flat landscape on the east side of the park. Thumper Entertainment organizes the annual Roots 'N' Blues 'N' BBQ Festival in downtown Columbia.

*Organizers, such as Thumper, are charged by the city for every person who goes to an event held in a city park. The charges equal $2.20 per adult and $2.05 for each child. Based on the expected attendance of adults only, Carol Rhodes with the City Manager's Office said this fee could be around $8,000.

Thumper offered to donate 10 trees, which they valued at $2,500, to the city's Memorial/Heritage Tree and Bench Program. The company asked the council to waive the rest of the event fee, since it called this concert a trial run. If the concert continued, Thumper would pay more of the fee in the future.

The company has several goals in mind for the summer concert. Betsy Farris, president of Thumper Entertainment, said it hopes to "shine the spotlight on the park." Farris said Thumper wants to attract blues festival fans, as well a young crowd, somewhere in the *18- to 34-year-old range.

It also has plans to promote sustainability through the event by encouraging concert-goers to ride a bike or walk to the event. It will also provide a water refilling station, use solar lights and possibly a solar-powered stage to further contribute to the sustainability theme.

The 2012 summer concert will be a trial run to see if the project can accomplish these goals.

The Parks and Recreation Commission will discuss the progression of the event at its next meeting, particularly issues surrounding the sale of alcohol and fees for the use of the city's park.

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Kevin Gamble January 5, 2012 | 2:12 p.m.

Personally, I don't like the sound of this. It seems that with each passing year, this supposedly "preserved" natural area is just becoming more of a concretized theme park, steadily drifting away from its natural roots with a series of new artificial novelties (most seemingly consisting of junk rock donated from local quarries). Has a bulldozer *not* been parked somewhere in the park since its inception?

Plus, the acoustics in the area of the park are unusual. A loud event at this park creates some very loud and strange resonance in nearby neighborhoods up to half a mile away. There was a hideously loud DJ event at the park in the fall that was incredibly disturbing to nearby neighborhoods. There's already enough sonic impact in the area from the outdoor shows at Mojos and the 9th Street events. Let's not punish the area any further. (And that's leaving aside any question of disruption to the animal residents of the area.)

There are plenty of good music venues in town already, including spots closer to campus. Hold a sustainability event at Stephens Lake, sure, but let's put the brakes on this kind of large-scale, damaging, noisy spectacle in a place that was originally protected for the purpose of avoiding commercial use and development (and which is surrounded by residential neighborhoods).

After the last couple years we've had in Columbia, it would be encouraging to see a significant decision made on a basis other than what's most lucrative for a small group of people.

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