“There has never been a national act of this type at the Durham Bandshell Park before,” said Craig Kaufman, Bandshell Manager for the City of Ames. “The community is excited about this. It was designed to be a music venue, and that is what residents want to see there.”
Bandshell Park and stage have a long history in the community of Ames. The Iowa Railroad Land Company gifted the property to the City in 1882 with the stipulation that it be used as a park. The first stage was a wooden structure built for local band performances. It was replaced in 1909 after money was raised for a new concrete circular structure. However, by 1934 the park's second bandstand was beginning to crumble. Dedication of the current structure was held on June 13, 1935. A record 10,000 attendees were treated to an hour-long concert by the Fort Dodge Band under the direction of legendary bandmaster Karl King.
“The stage at Durham Bandshell Park has always been a showcase venue for Ames,” said Kaufman. “There were many articles written about it at the time. It was considered the best bandshell in the country by many.”
Kaufman says while the music industry has changed over the years, what people want to see at the park hasn’t changed. It is meant to be a music venue. Cindy Hicks, Executive Director of the Main Street Cultural District, agrees and welcomes the opportunity to partner with the City of Ames to make that happen with Firefly Country Nights.
“Bandshell Park and the stage are an important part of downtown Ames and the history of our community,” said Hicks. “For many years, we have wanted to integrate the bandshell into the downtown business district.”
Hicks and Kaufman both say they hope the Jana Kramer concert is the start of a new era of music entertainment in Bandshell Park. “We are going to learn from this concert, and are already considering possibilities for next summer,” said Kaufman. “We want to produce some shows of our own, but we don’t know yet what that will look like.”
Food is the other star on display! “This year we have more variety than ever.” said Jess Clyde owner of London Underground and event co-lead. “More grilled options, fried fish, ice cream, iced coffees, smoothies, and of course BBQ and sweet corn!”
Organizers say Kramer, who began her country music career in 2012 with the single “Why Ya' Wanna” from her self-titled debut album, is the biggest act to be booked for Firefly Country Nights in its four-year history. She is also known for her role as Alex Dupre on the television series “One Tree Hill” and competed on season 23 of Dancing with the Stars.
“We have had Jana Kramer in our sites for the last two years.” said Bill Malone event co-lead and owner of Café Diem in downtown Ames. “She has a huge following and a great body of work. We got lucky because she is playing a major event in Chicago the next day and her management team thought an Ames stop worked perfect in her schedule.”
You can purchase tickets in advance at Midwestix.com for $18. Since this is the first year of holding the concert in the park, sales will be capped at 1,500 and are expected to sell out. If any tickets are left, they will be sold for $25 at the gate.
The Firefly Country Nights after party will be at McFly’s, starting at 9:30 pm on July 14th. A second Firefly Country Nights concert will be held in downtown Ames on September 8 starring Canaan Smith.