Singers, musicians and entertainers graced the stage of Sherman’s municipal grounds for the final night of the Hot Summer Nights concert series Thursday. Organizers for the event said Thursday’s concert topped off a year of strong performances and high attendance for the annual series.
“We’ve been talking about where we can go from here because we’ve been maxing out our parking,” Sherman Tourism Manager Sarah McRae said.
This year was the 25th edition of the popular concert series. What started as a small event aimed at providing activities in the month of July has grown into a summer-spanning series of performances by travelling artists and musicians.
Grammy-winning, ’90s alternative rockers Soul Asylum closed out the series Thursday night in what organizers felt could be one of the biggest draws of the summer.
“They were one of the bands I loved growing up listening to alternative music,” McRae said. “I loved them both then and today as well.”
McRae said Soul Asylum would have a difficult time topping country artist Joe Diffie, who brought in a crowd of nearly 5,000 to the city’s municipal grounds. This turnout falls in line with the crowds that fellow country musicians Mark Chestnut and Rick Trevino brought out in recent years, she said.
McRae said country music has an advantage when it comes to local audiences, but organizers for the series wanted to provide diversity to the shows in hopes that it might attract a wider audience.
“Obviously in this area, country is king, but we have to focus on bringing in a wide variety of genres,” she said.
Other highlights for the year included Flock of Seagulls, who along with Soul Asylum served as well-known book ends for the series, and The Band of Heathens, who brought a more modern approach to country music, McRae said.
The highest turnout easily went to KC and the Sunshine Band, who headlined the annual Lights on the Lake concert on July 3. The concert before the Fourth of July holiday is regularly hosted at Pecan Grove Park and includes a fireworks display as part of the festivities. McRae was uncertain how many attended this year’s Lights on the Lake, but estimated it at about 10,000 based on parking.
The tourism manager attributed the high turnout at the concerts to a strong social media marketing campaign that has a reach far outside the Sherman-Denison area. Most attendees are within 60 miles of Sherman, but McRae said some acts have had the reach to bring in visitors from about 100 miles away.
“I think the way that we market these shows gives us a way to see who and where people are coming from for our weekly shows,” she said.