Day After 4th of July Concert: More People Showed for Fireworks Than Show

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By Heather VacLav

Wednesday’s 4th of July Concert on Montgomery's Riverfront had mixed reviews, on both the required tickets to get in and "no cooler" rules for guests.
According to Riverfront Facilities, 1,080 people paid $15 for the concert, and approximately 2,500 others came through the gates when opened up free to the public.
Last year’s 4th of July concert was free, with 4,500 guests, which is why some of the local vendors say this year is not what they expected.
“They did the fireworks early and just a whole bunch of people came down,” said Spence Hemmee who was working at the Cantina Restaurant stand. “We thought it was going to be slammed, but it wasn’t as slammed as we thought it was going to be.”
The rush of people were those who got in to see the fireworks for free, and by doing so, also got to see half of the headliner band’s show, Blackberry Smoke.
“A lot of people did get to come in and see, but there's no way to know that when you're depending on someone for fireworks to go off,” said Denise Welch, event coordinator for Riverfront Facilities.
The Max Fireworks Spectacular happens after select Montgomery Biscuit games, and the baseball game ended sooner than expected for the 4th of July show.
Riverfront Facilities is a division of the Montgomery Department of Parks and Recreation. It said the concert cost the city $12,000.
“We have an amount that we have budgeted for our events, and pretty much that's what we stuck with,” Welch said. “So as far as breaking even, that’s pretty much where we stand, there's not going to be any additional funds that will have to be removed from another account take care of this.”
But many people in the River Region did not agree with the decision to charge people $15 per ticket or make them pay for food and drinks at vendors inside the event.
“That makes the cost go up a whole lot more,” said Michael Walcott of Montgomery. “So in addition to your $15 ticket, you gotta go and buy a beer or some soda and some water, and by the time you're through it will cost you $35.”
The Riverfront Facilities says had the holiday been next to a weekend versus the midweek, more people would have showed for the concert.
“It was on a Wednesday, the weather was hot, it was nice for the evening, so to evaluate whether people chose to the beach or to the lake for the evening is difficult for us to say,” Welch said explaining the crowd size.
”But of course we would like to have higher numbers, but we think that we had an absolute great event for the people that came out,” she said.
Next year, the Montgomery Biscuits will not have a home game on Independence Day, so Welch says that will affect their plans. Riverfront Facilities will have their "post-mortem" meeting Friday to reevaluate this year's 4th of July concert and discuss any changes for next year.

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Mike said on Thursday, Jul 5 at 6:59 PM

What you had was a cluster....... It will be the lake amphitheatre for us from now on or Wetumpka, Montgomery is money hungry and will starve in the long run trying to get it like the world famous Jubilee. Just couldn't get enough. Many local bands would compete/perform for free

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Ken said on Friday, Jul 6 at 10:44 AM

Mike, the lake amphitheatre charged about $10 to $15 a ticket more for Blackberry Smoke than Riverfront did. It was a awesome show at a good price. A local band-Spike Graham-played first and put on a great show as well. The tickets were actually only $10 in advance and $15 on the day of the show. As for the cooler issue-Try to walk into Oak Mountain or Lakewood in Atlanta with a cooler and see how far you get! "No coolers" is the norm at most outdoor concerts these days. All in all the music, fireworks and riverfront combined for a great 4th of July evening in Montgomery.

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