Work underway in October 2019 as Town crews regraded the bowl surrounding the Bandshell, and an outside contractor removed a tree standing in the way of improvements. VOICE PHOTO

A casualty of the pandemic, popular Thursday night performances are back next week

Gayle Baltjes is on a mission.

She and her crew of Bandshell Committee members have been sweating the details, pulling together an abbreviated summer concert-in-the-park series for Pelhamites to enjoy. Due to the pandemic, the last Peace Park concert was in September 2019.

“We have an incredible lineup of local talent to get you tapping your toes and clapping your hands once again,” said Baltjes, the volunteer chair. “Though it may not be exactly what it was for the last decade, it promises to be a wonderful six weeks of enjoying a little bit of normal in all our lives on Thursday nights.”

The series kicks off August 5 with classic and Canadian rock group Cottage Brew, followed on August 12 with Eagles tribute band New Kid in Town. Niagara favourite Soul Jam, which feature R&B, Motown and classic rock, take the stage August 19. Folk and alternative-country group The Wanted are slated for August 26, while R&B favourite The Johnny Max Band returns on September 2. The season wraps up with This Time Around on September 9, featuring cover tunes from the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s.

“We have been meeting every week for the last couple months, hoping this would come together,” said Baltjes. “The last two weeks have been hectic, but I think that we have everything in order. The first week is going to be a little bit of a learning experience, with all the procedures in place due to Health Canada guidelines. We’re going to ensure that we keep our audience and our volunteers safe.”

The Bandshell concert committee is composed of Wayne Hosick, Elizabeth Triano, David Swan, Marlene Taylor, Gayle Baltjes, Bryan Baltjes, Jim Casson, Carolyn Mullin, Jill Cappa, Annie Holtby, and Gail Levay.

“Jim has prepared the concert series website and promotional flyers, and Carolyn has handled social media,” said Baltjes. “Jill is ensuring our Covid safety planning aligns with government regulations. Bryan and David are coordinating the park seating with the Town, and Annie is organizing the registration with the help of local web designer Melissa Wells.”

Baltjes also gave a shout-out to Town staff, “who have made themselves available for meetings and clarifications with everything we keep asking and throwing at them.”

The Town will be adding washrooms and helping with the park fencing and seating markings.

Wine, beer, and food vendors will return in force for the events, said Baltjes.

There are a few changes for concertgoers. Chair set-up on concert day will only be allowed after 4 PM, and everyone is asked to pre-register their attendance online at fonthillbandshell.com for Covid tracking purposes and capacity limits. Once checked in, participants will be guided to appropriate seating areas by volunteer staff. Mask-wearing and social distancing will be in place for the concerts. Upon arrival and registration, guests will receive a bracelet for identification, so they may move about freely (while masked) in the Bandshell, supper market, and farmers market areas.

For those unable to pre-register (or who simply forget), there will be on-site sign-in registration available until capacity is reached. Under the health and safety guidelines, masks must be worn and guests must adhere to physical distancing rules of keeping six feet apart. For those who are part of the same household, which includes caregivers, they may sit together without masks. If you are not from the same household, a mask is required at all times when within 6 feet. The next party will be required to be at a distance of six feet away.

“We are still trying to get answers on things like dancing, and socializing, and believe both will be allowed as long as people are masked and keeping their distance,” noted Baltjes. “The road will be closed in front of the post office for those wishing to shake off two years of pent-up pandemic frustration!”

She added that the Bandshell volunteers have chosen not to ask sponsors for support for this season’s summer series, cognizant that businesses have reopening costs, and are on tight budgets. However, those in attendance will be asked for donations by the familiar red shirt ‘Bucket Brigade’ to help cover the cost of the concert series.

For more information, see fonthillbandshell.com, or contact Baltjes at 905-308-4612, or [email protected]