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Big Names

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With a major Blues Festival on deck this month and a bevy of other free concerts throughout the year, the City of Casselberry has become a sought-after destination for some of the biggest musical acts in the nation

When the City of Casselberry hosted its annual Latin Jazz and Art Festival in September, internationally acclaimed musicians such as Tito Puente, Jr. and the Rico Monaco Band drew approximately 5,000 people to Lake Concord Park. Country music star Adam Wakefield also drew a huge crowd for the Country Jam Concert in October. Without a doubt, Lake Concord Park has grown into a preferred outdoor concert venue for both local and national acts. How did the small town of Casselberry become a can’t-miss destination for such big names?

“We’ve been hosting concerts here since 1999, and the community wanted to see Lake Concord Park become a serious concert venue,” says Linda Moore, the City of Casselberry’s recreation manager. “It has taken several steps to get to this point, but we’ve been able to create an educational park and concert venue that continues to grow into something more and more special.”

Listening to great musicians while relaxing by a beautiful lake, under a 150-year-old oak tree and surrounded by a calming sculpture garden represents a pretty awesome way to spend a Saturday night with the family, and that is exactly what the Casselberry leaders envisioned.

“Over the years our reputation has grown, and musicians have told their friends about us, so we’ve been able to book some big names, including Arturo Sandoval and Tito Puente, Jr.,” Linda says. “We’re on their radar now because they know they’re going to have a positive experience and play in front of great crowds.”

The City’s tiny-but-mighty events team organizes seven major music concerts a year – all of them free and non-ticketed – as well as several smaller events with art vendors and food trucks. Art exhibits at adjacent City Hall correspond with the bigger concerts, giving both musicians and attendees the opportunity to enjoy quality artwork from around the world.

“Musicians love the artwork, and the artists love listening to the musicians, so it’s very symbiotic,” says Jason Costa, Casselberry’s arts and marketing coordinator. Jason curates the art shows and ensures everyone involved experiences true Southern hospitality. He stresses that the City wants to showcase great artists and musicians, but he especially wants great people.

“Having 20 artists all clicking creates a great energy and affects the entire crowd,” Jason says. “We’re in the process of placemaking, and Lake Concord is the center of gravity for us and the place where it all comes together.”
Mark Gisclar, Casselberry’s public works director, believes the key to making it all work is building relationships and treating people right.

“The musicians are calling us now,” he says. “They want to come back, and they’re also telling their friends in the music world about it, across all genres. The bottom line is we deliver, and that’s allowed us to grow.”

Linda believes Casselberry is building memories for the musicians and artists, as well as those who come to hear them play and see their work.

“The critical thing is having the venue that lends itself to all of this, and Lake Concord Park is perfect in this regard,” she says. “It gives the residents of Casselberry and all of Central Florida the opportunity to enjoy musicians who play in big cities across the country, right here in their own backyard.”

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