For the city of Denison, the year 2020 will go down as one of significant change as the city adapted to the new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic. The need to adapt extended into many parts of the city, including one of its major annual events.
Despite setbacks, including two canceled performances and a change of venue, the show still went on in Denison as the city held its 2020 Music on Main concert series. For nearly two decades, the city has brought musical acts from across the country to Denison in a concert series each year.
"I feel like people want to have some sense of normalcy and I feel like we were able to offer that in as safe a manner as possible in today’s climate," Main Street Director Donna Dow said Monday.
Music on Main will end its scheduled run for 2020 this Friday with a performance by Hill County, whose lead singer has previously performed at Music on Main.
Despite early uncertainty following the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers continued planning for the summer event this spring. Following loosening restrictions on the state level in May, organizers started the concert series three weeks later than anticipated.
The first week’s show was canceled completely, while organizers rescheduled the acts for weeks two and three for July 3 and August 7, effectively extending the series for an additional week.
However, the July 3 performance by The Steel Wind was ultimately canceled following tightened restrictions in early July following surges across the state of COVID-19 cases.
In addition to changing the schedule, Music on Main saw a change of venue in 2020 when it was moved fro Heritage Park to Forest Park. Dow said this would allow concertgoers to spread out more and allow for more space than what was available at the main street park.
"I don’t believe that it would have been both safe and that our city manager and mayor would have considered it favorable," Dow said, regarding if Music on Main would have taken place outside of Forest Park. "Normally with the crowds we see at Heritage Park there is no way we could have spread them out. So, to make people comfortable and also to provide safety, it was necessary that we move it."
While Forest Park had significantly more space, it did not have a stage like heritage park does. This led volunteers with multiple groups to assist in building a performance space.
"There were different circumstances that we had to manage behind the scenes, but we had a stage built and we had the lumber donated, the construction donated and the design of the stage donated. That was a pretty impressive feat in and of itself," Dow said.
Dow thanked Main Street Lumber, Planning and Zoning Chairman Charles Shearer and Four Rivers Outreach for support with donated materials, plans and construction of the stage, respectively.
"The community just came together and made that happen and made a beautiful stage that can be broken back down into pieces and disassembled, and then reassembled again," Dow said.
With regard to future years, Dow said that organizers would consider returning to Forest Park, but it was expected to be a temporary venue.
"I think it will be discussed. It really depends on the factors and how COVID reacts in the long term," Dow said. "The people who come to forest park liked that venue, but a lot of businesses like it on Main Street."
For this year’s concerts, Little Texas brought in the largest crowd, with about 2,500 in attendance. By comparison, the largest show in the series’ history brought it about 4,500. If the pandemic were not an issue, Dow said that Little Texas might have broken that record.
"It is hard to say, because each band has their own following, but our largest concert ever was about 4,500 and Little Texas brought in 2,500," Dow said. " I do not know what they would have drawn normally. It could have been 1,000 to 2,500 more."
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at email@example.com.