The festival’s music format was introduced in 2001, but Party in the Park has experienced the most growth in the last three years as the planning committee began scouting a mix of high-profile local acts and inviting a few national acts onto the bill.
Event sponsor and co-coordinator Gabe Cicconetti said the festival has grown so much that in the future the planning committee may have to consider moving it from the central location in Painesville City’s downtown square as it continues to expand. However, no such plans are in effect yet.
“It was more than we could have anticipated in 2009 to 2010. It was a tremendous jump,” said Cicconetti, who continued to explain that in the last two years the event's growth, which is gauged by beer sales and vendor feedback, increased 35 percent.
More than 130 musical acts submitted a bid to play the event this year. All but four out of the 25 acts selected to play the event this year were original artists, according to Cicconetti. Notable performers from Northeast Ohio included Winslow, Zach & The Bright Lights, Tom Evanchuck and The Old Money, Oldboy, Shaun Easton Band and Grateful Dead tribute band Sugar Magnolia.
“This year's bands were incredible. They all got you on your feet and put a smile in your heart,” said Stephanie Flach, Painesville resident. “It's so nice to have a music festival in your backyard.”
Among the national acts who returned were The Ragbirds of Michigan. The fan favorite from last year held the title, according to Flach. A throng of dancing concert-goers jammed during the band's hour-and-a-half set.
Reggae-rock band Babylon Saints made the near-3,000-mile trek from Los Angeles to perform. Lead vocalist Matt Gerovac, a Cleveland native, said the group is interested in making it an annual tour stop.
“People are great here. They really support live music. They really get excited and there’s so much energy when you're on stage playing,” said Tyler “Sledge” Drake, Babylon Saints bassist.
Carlos Jones & The PLUS Band with The Sweets closed the festival on Sunday night, leaving the crowd pleading for “one more song.”
Cicconetti said the event organizers wanted to “do something different to put Painesville on the map.” The numbers are proof that the east-side-Cleveland suburb is a pushpin on families’ and festival-goers’ map. More than 3,800 people responded with an “Attending” to the event’s Facebook invitation, which was sent out to more than 18,000 people.
“When you look out and see thousands and thousands of people having a good time in your hometown that’s the motivation,” Cicconetti said of The Painesville Community Improvement Corporation’s dedication to putting on the free event.
Photos of the event are featured on The Rhythm Report’s Facebook page.
Written by Priscilla Tasker