The Washington Parks Department has received its first request for use of the main stage amphitheater at the fairgrounds.
The department is tasked with setting rental rules and regulations, as well as fees for facilities on parks property.
Jim Dierking and Rick Hopp attended the Nov. 15 parks committee meeting in hopes of getting a cost associated with renting the amphitheater for a concert.
The two-night concert would be a joint venture between the Washington Lions Club and the Knights of Columbus and would tentatively be set for the May 10-11 weekend.
Dierking said the bands performing at the concert would be nationally known, but smaller bands.
“This is something we would like to shut down the entire fairgrounds for,” Dierking said, noting that the rest of the fairgrounds wouldn’t be used, but would need to be closed off to keep people from sitting outside the grounds watching the concert for free.
There is a 15-person committee working on organizing the concert, Dierking said, adding that the goal is to eventually make the concert into a three-day event.
“No organization on their own seems to be able to pull this off,” Dierking said, “because of the lights, the sound, the fencing — all of the extra expenses that come along with what we’re trying to do.”
The parks department has been working on updating facility rules, regulations and rental fees for the past several months. No pricing has been set for the amphitheater.
Dierking asked for leniency in pricing.
“We’re kind-of dancing on (new) ground out there. We’re trying to show people that the stage area can be used for other events besides for the Fair.”
Rick Hopp, a Lions Club member, said staging a large production at the amphitheater will be costly.
A generator will have to be used to produce three-phase power for sound and lights, he said. The stage wasn’t designed with three-phase power because of the cost associated with it.
Hopp said the committee is being cautious in which bands will play at the concert.
“We don’t want to hurt the reputation of the fair, so the bands that we bring in are going to go through Tim Poepsel who books the entertainment for the Fair,” Hopp said. “We want to do this right, because if we don’t, it won’t happen again.”
The committee already is working on security. Hopp said he wasn’t sure if city services will be needed.
Darren Dunkle, parks director, said he plans to talk to Fire Chief Bill Halmich about the event and whether fire and ambulance will be needed.
Dunkle said he is close to having pricing completed and may be able to present the board with pricing suggestions at its Dec. 6 meeting.
He noted the difficulty is setting prices for so many types of groups that may want to use the facility.
“I think I have that figured out. I’ve looked at several other amphitheaters across the nation,” he said.
Dunkle noted that he is taking into consideration that the group doesn’t necessarily know how many people will show up and is working to create pricing that won’t put either group at risk of losing too much financially.
For special events, the hosting group is responsible for making sure there is an adequate amount of restroom facilities, as well as fencing, security and insurance.
Sparky Stuckenschneider, park board member, said he thinks the concert is a great idea.
Other park board members agreed.
Dunkle said he will work to have fees ready for the board to discuss at its Dec. 6 meeting.