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February 15, 2012
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Summer concert series expands to 14 weeks

Blair Bracken didn't hear many complaints regarding last summer's Centennial Park Concert Series, except for one.

"The biggest complaint that I heard is that it wasn't long enough," Bracken said of the four-week 2011 concert series. She developed the series after becoming the special events coordinator for Rifle Parks and Recreation Department.

A welcome option for something to do on a Sunday evening in Rifle, the series offered four weekly shows starting in June and culminating at the Independence Day celebration on July 3.

This year, with a wealth of community support, the concert series will make a big leap to 14 weekly shows, running from June 17 to Sept. 9.

"I didn't expect that at all," Bracken said of expanding the series to 14 weeks. "I hoped for that, but I thought it was a far-reaching dream."

Concerts will still start about 5 to 6 p.m. on Sundays at Centennial Park, but with a new twist.

Bracken said that the popular Rifle Farmer's Market, previously held on Thursdays, will move to Sundays with the music series, and be renamed the Centennial Market. It will include artisans and craft vendors as well and fresh produce and local foods.

"We hope to broaden and add more variety to the vendors there," she said.

The new market will open at 4 p.m. with musical performances beginning later in the evening. The whole evening will wrap up by 9 at the latest, and earlier as the season draws to a close.

The move from four weeks to 14 is possible with a boost in funding for the series. The 2012 funding is $23,000, up from the $9,000 in funding for 2011, Bracken said.

"When I did learn that I had that much funding, I thought, wow, I really did something good here," she said.

Bracken said financial support for the series has come from generous donations from Alpine Bank, the 2012 primary sponsor, and Grand River Hospital District. The city's Visitor Improvement Fund also contributed funds to the series.

"Through conversations, the community has been very supportive and is excited for this series," Bracken said. "They hoped it would be extended and I'm excited to be able to do that this summer."

Bracken said that she's already booked about 75 percent of the musical acts.

"I'm very excited about it," she said. "I'm overwhelmed with all the work that needs to happen before June. It's overwhelming but exciting."

In addition to the Sunday concert series, there will be a separate Independence Day show on Tuesday, July 3, thanks to a donation from the Brenden Mann Foundation, featuring Symphony in the Valley.

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The Post Independent Updated Feb 15, 2012 04:34PM Published Feb 15, 2012 04:33PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.