Despite extreme heat, pouring rain and band no-shows that have threatened to hamper Alive After Five, the second edition of the downtown concert series — there are two shows remaining — has still garnered huge crowds and a significant boost in sponsors and monetary support that will help bring a third series next year.
“The series has gone well,” said Alive After Five committee member Ray Jordan, who noted there have been some hiccups out of the control of organizers of the series, presented by the Sampson Arts Council, the City of Clinton and the County of Sampson.
The first event, in May, was to feature Craig Woolard Band but was rained out. Organizers had to hurry to find a replacement in June for Ricochet, whose bus broke down in Tennessee. At the last minute, Liquid Pleasure agreed to play, and did so to the highest-attended show in this year’s series thus far. Liquid Pleasure returned in July, this time on their regularly scheduled date, but under triple-digit temperatures that kept many away.
Jordan said there were close to 800 people in attendance in May before the sky caved in just before the show was to begin. There were about 250 people under and around the sponsors tent when it began to pour. “I think, had the weather not messed up the first one, that might have been our biggest one,” he said.
The crowd again came out for the second event, with nearly 1,400 coming downtown. Less than 1,000 came out to the third show, which Jordan attributes to blazing temperatures and a repeat act.
“The main thing it had to do with was the heat,” he remarked.
Alive After Five averaged 1,700 attendees for each show in 2011. Leading up to this year’s series, Jordan said he was hoping for 2,500 to 3,000 per show. Those numbers are still possible for the last two concerts, as the series will end with a bang.
Band Of Oz will play on Thursday, Aug. 16, and Craig Woolard Band will wrap up this year’s series with their rescheduled show on Thursday, Sept. 6. Shows start at 5:30 and go to 8 p.m.
“I’m really expecting a big crowd this time,” Jordan said. “I sure hope it doesn’t rain on the 16th. If it does, you better believe we’ll be at the Expo Center.”
While unforeseen circumstances have hampered attendance for the series to a certain degree, Jordan said the sponsor support has been overwhelming, with numbers far exceeding those from 2011. Last year, there were 79 sponsors and $60,370 raised to put on the four shows. This year, there have been a whopping 111 sponsors and $75,888 raised to date. Last year, the series broke even, and that will likely be the case again this year, as the 2012 series essentially equates to five more shows — one more than last year.
Breaking even is not a bad thing, Jordan said.
“That’s what we’re trying to do, is to promote and hold an event that is free to the community,” said Jordan. “If we can bring in excess revenues and bank it for future series, that’s great, but our goal is to provide great events and be able to break even and not go backwards.”
The other goal behind the series is to bring the community together and offer something free and unique to residents, all while attracting people to a revitalized and growing downtown. Many businesses in and around the downtown have been able to benefit from the series, holding “after parties” or specials for people to take advantage of when the music is over. Jordan said he has spoken to people that come to Clinton and Sampson County from as far as Clayton and Goldsboro.
“I think people are very excited we have the series,” Jordan said. “We will be having a series next year. We haven’t booked anything yet, but we’re getting to that point now.”
Jordan said sponsor support has made the entire summer concert series possible.
“I know the entire community is grateful for the sponsors and looks forward to the shows,” he said, before plugging the next one. “Band of Oz always brings out a big crowd and we’re looking forward to a big crowd.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.