On lazy summer evenings, music and the spirit of giving bring the community together in Olathe.
Thousands of people congregate in the city’s parks for free concerts by Grammy Award-winning musicians as part of the Olathe Summer Concert Series.
The family-friendly event, held Friday nights throughout the summer, raises money for Olathe charities. The next concert is July 10.
So far, the concert series has raised around $160,000 in the past decade, for charities ranging from Kids TLC to the Olathe Salvation Army.
Each show usually collects around $1,000 to $6,000 in one night.
“Supporting our community is a big part of what Olathe stands for,” said Nichole Asquith, the city’s parks and recreation marketing manager. “It’s who we are and what we do.”
The event is one of the most popular attractions in Olathe, she added, which each show drawing anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 attendees per night.
It’s a series that has received national attention and brings in a regional audience.
“I will get e-mails and Facebook messages from people who plan their weekend trips to Kansas City around these shows,” Asquith said. “I’m not surprised, because it is a big deal. Some of these shows would normally cost someone sixty-five dollars to see.”
This summer, the lineup includes Kelley Hunt, Liverpool and Phantom Blues Band.
Hunt, a Kansas native, is a popular pianist, singer and songwriter on the blue scene.
Liverpool, a Beatles tribute band, complete with mop-top hair and vintage guitars, is one of the most sought-after acts in the Kansas City area.
Phantom Blues Band, made up of talented Hollywood studio musicians, cross-breeds various styles in its sound, such as blues, jazz, gospel and reggae, to name a few.
Each show starts at 7 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m. to abide by the city’s noise ordinance.
Most people arrive for each show around 5 p.m., Asquith said. For some of the more popular acts, people arrive even earlier to secure a good spot.
“Our concerts have a high-quality sound, so no matter where you are in the park, even if it’s way in the back, you’ll have a good time and hear everything really well,” she said. “There’s always a lot of space, our parks are huge.”
Concessions stands, run jointly by HyVee and the Olathe Noon Optimists, sell hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled chicken, chips and drinks.
People are allowed to bring their own food and drinks as well.
The event is one of those gems that makes Olathe special, Asquith said.
“It’s a night out in a beautiful park on a summer evening, listening to Grammy Award-winning artists for free,” Asquith said. “It’s a family-friend environment and it’s safe. People look forward to it every year.”
For a full schedule of the Olathe Summer Concert Series, visit www.olatheks.org/
Bring your own lawn chairs and blankets.
Alcohol is prohibited, as are audio and visual recordings.
Dogs on a leash are allowed.