The Clayton Town Council has set dates – five of them – for this summer’s Town Square Concert Series.
In the most ambitious series yet, the town will shut down a block of Main Street and double spending on bands. A permanent stage on Town Square could come sometime in the future.
For this year’s series, the stage will be on the south side of Town Square, near the Second Street parking lot and facing Main Street. The town will remove six trees in the middle of the square, opening up the grassy center for concert-goers.
Clayton planning director David DeYoung, who’s pulling double duty as interim downtown-development coordinator, said the placement of the stage should keep the sun out of everyone’s eyes. DeYoung thinks this year’s series will be one of the best around.
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“We want this to be something better than our neighbors at Flowers Plantation and any of the other little towns around us,” DeYoung said.
This year’s concerts will be Friday, May 20; Saturday, June 18,; Thursday, July 21; Thursday, Aug. 18; and Thursday, Sept. 15. With shows held only on Thursday nights in the past, DeYoung said he wanted to try a Friday and Saturday, hoping to open up the concerts to busy parents.
“This may bring out more families to celebrate our concert series,” he said.
Summer has plenty of competing attractions, some as close and simple as a chair on the front porch. Councilman Bob Satterfield, a beach music fan, questioned whether the series’ musical diversity kept crowds thinner than in the past, when beach music was the standard.
“We started with beach bands, and I had no issue switching over for the sake of diversity, if it brings in the same number of people,” Satterfield said. “But is hasn’t brought in the same number.”
DeYoung said funding for this year’s bands would be double last year’s, hopefully leading to bigger draws.
“We’re looking to up the game big time this year,” DeYoung said. “We’re looking at bands that are more on the cusp of going big time. We’ll have a beach band, country, R and B. There’s going to be a Stevie Wonder cover band that I’ll tell you right now will be a hell of a show.”
The possibility of building a permanent stage on Town Square intrigued council members, but they balked at losing rare downtown parking spaces. DeYoung said a permanent stage would eat up about about a third of the Second Street parking lot.
Town Manager Steve Biggs said that without a plan to make up lost parking spaces, a permanent stage was a non-starter.
“We’re getting way out ahead of ourselves,” Biggs said. “We need to come out ahead on parking spaces before I’ll support it. We’re a good long ways from losing parking spaces in Town Square.”
With this year’s stage facing downtown, the town will close Main Street between O’Neil and Fayetteville streets, filling the block with food trucks and vendor tents. DeYoung said he expects around three to four food trucks and possibly a hot dog vendor, answering complaints from last year that some of the food trucks were too expensive. Craft and domestic beer and wine will also be on the menu.
Drew Jackson: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104; @jdjackson