RIDGWAY – Town Manager Greg Clifton confirmed Monday that Ridgway has committed to host three Pickin’ in the Park concerts this summer, which means the race to raise approximately $20,000 to cover the concerts’ cost is on.
One Ridgway restaurant has stepped up to the plate, so to speak, by offering up great food at a great price with portion of its proceeds going to help cover the popular summertime events.
Peter and Cara O’Brien, owners of Smyth’s Pub and Chop House in Ridgway, have created a daily Blue Plate Special. For every Blue Plate Special sold, $2 will be donated to the Pickin’ In the Park music series.
“We want to make sure the music happens,” Peter O’Brien said Monday, while serving up that day’s Blue Plate Special of smoked chicken and red beans and rice. The O’Briens used to run the French Bistro, in Austin, Tex., where live music is a way of life. They contributed to various organizations in the seven years they owned the restaurant and helped raise over $40,000.
“We come from a big music town where everybody gets involved. I was bummed to hear that the Pickin’ in the Park concert series might not happen again. My family had so much fun last summer at the shows, and I really want to help make the music a reality again.”
The free Pickin’ in the Park concert series has come to Ridgway’s Hartwell Park the past two summers and has become a popular event as its promoters, Paonia-based Pickin’ Productions, have brought such nationally recognized acts such as Carrie Rodriguez, Sweet Sunny South and the Boulder Acoustic Society, to name just a few.
With attendance to the free concerts growing substantially in the last two years, the Ridgway Town Council was forced with a tough decision last December, when it reluctantly agreed that the town’s 2010 budget could not afford to fund the concerts.
Then, at its Feb. 10 meeting, council reconsidered, agreeing informally that the concert series was simply too important to lose, and directed town staff to work with Pickin’ Productions to find ways to reduce the costs, including dropping the number of concerts from four down to three during the month of July.
Soon, the town signed on with the promoter, and the fundraising began.
“It is an exciting thing,” Clifton said. “Putting on the concert series is now a grassroots effort.”
O’Brien said he hopes his restaurant’s donation of $2 for every Blue Plate Special sold will eventually add up to a significant contribution – and he hopes, too, the special will raise awareness that money is needed to hold the concerts.
“I hope it does remind people that the concerts are there, and they need funding,” he said. “I want to raise awareness that we all need to get involved here, if we want these concerts.”
Besides Monday’s Blue Plate Special of smoked chicken and red beans and rice, O’Briene has put together a weekly schedule of Blue Plate Specials including chicken fried steak and mashers on Tuesdays, barbecue brisket and cowboy beans on Wednesdays, taco dinner and live music by Box Car Will on Thursdays, fish-fry Fridays, and pasta night on Saturdays. All Blue Plate Specials are under $15, and are served for lunch and dinner. Parents with hungry children are invited to Smyth’s every Tuesday night, starting March 16, for Kid’s night, where kids eat for .99 cents when an adult orders an entrée.
“We want the concerts to get bigger and better every year,” said O’Brien. And so, by offering the Blue Plate Special, “I hope it is a good way to let people in town feel like they are a part of the fundraising, as well as letting everyone know that every little bit helps.”
Smyth’s Pub and Chop House is located at 257 Sherman St. in Ridgway and is open for lunch and dinner, 11 a.m. to close, Monday-Saturday.
This year’s Pickin’ in the Park concerts are scheduled for Thursday evenings on July 8, 15 and 22. The event is being provided in conjunction with the Town of Paonia (which will host similar concerts in August), KVNF public radio and Pickin’ Productions. Sponsors are now being sought. To contribute or sponsor the concert series contact Clifton at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for more information.