Free Saturday summer concerts back in Cape Charles

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SUBMITTED PHOTO Concert-goers gather in Cape Charles Central Park in 2022. Its concert series begins Saturday, June 24.

BY STEFANIE JACKSON, Eastern Shore Post —

Cape Charles’ Citizens for Central Park celebrates a decade of summer music with its 2023 free concert series from Saturday, June 24, through Saturday, Sept. 9.

The concert series is “the largest and most successful one on the Virginia Eastern Shore,” and even bigger crowds are anticipated this year, said Hank Mayer, of Citizens for Central Park.

Fan-favorite bands like Good Shot Judy and The English Channel will return for Concerts in the Park in 2023, and a new addition to the lineup is expected to draw record numbers.

Normal attendance at a summer concert in Cape Charles Central Park is about 500 to 700, with concerts at the height of tourist season attracting 1,200 people or more.

That number is expected to shoot up to 2,000 when The Deloreans perform on Aug. 19.

“The park is going to be full,” Mayer said.

Over the last decade, Citizens for Central Park has worked to book musical acts that will best appeal to a wide audience.

Cape Charles residents and visitors make up a “broad mixture of people” from those “in their 70s to young families,” Mayer said.

Central Park is a great concert venue for young families because the children can have fun on the playground or play soccer while their parents enjoy the music, he noted.

The most successful concert series are the ones that feature a “good mixture of music that people can sing to or dance to,” Mayer said.

Citizens for Central Park was formed in 2001 to create a town park in Cape Charles from an old athletic field surrounded by a chain-link fence.

The park was essentially complete by 2010 and featured walkways and landscaping that included 160 trees, all planted as memorials.

By 2012, word had spread around the small town that Mayer, who had moved to Cape Charles from New Jersey, was an experienced grant writer.

He collaborated with then-town manager Bob Panek and the Lemon Tree Gallery’s owner, Clelia Sheppard, and manager, Mary Ann Roehm, among others.

The partnership of Citizens for Central Park and local arts group, Arts Enter, resulted in the receipt of a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Additional funds were raised, and in 2012 the first Harbor for the Arts festival was held, which included both music and experimental film. The first concert in Central Park followed in 2013.

The music and film programs were later split, with the local arts sector continuing the experimental films and Citizens for Central Park carrying on the concerts.

The summer concert series returns this year with a new logo and renewed energy.

Concerts in the Park continues with financial support from the town of Cape Charles and the Northampton County tourism committee as well as 25 sponsors who donated $500 to $2,500 apiece and 18 donors who each contributed $100 or more.

A total of about 7,000 people attended the concerts in the park last summer. This year, Citizens for Central Park hopes the concerts will attract 10,000 people from up and down the Delmarva peninsula and across the Chesapeake Bay as far as Richmond and beyond.

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