By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Southborough – Several years ago, Recreation Director Doreen Ferguson arranged to have a permanent platform built on the Neary Elementary School grounds for the musical entertainment of the annual Southborough Summer Nights.
“I had the platform built for Summer Nights with the intention of someday having other events there, too,” she said. “It's such a great location for our community events.”
Among the other events she had considered was an outdoor summer concert series. That idea was shared by Sarah Cassell, assistant director of Southborough Youth & Family Services (SYFS).
“We both had it in our minds,” Cassell said. “I's very connected with a lot of bands, so I had a natural interest in doing this. Doreen said that she has been wanting to do this for several years.”
For the second year, Southborough Recreation and SYFS partnered to produce the free Summer Concert Series from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursdays at the Neary School field. Last year, the bands were paid by a grant from the Choate Fund. This year, the bands” cost is covered by the Southborough Cultural Arts Council.
A concession stand with refreshments is organized by the Friends of the Southborough Youth Commission. Available items usually include pizza, hot dogs, ice cream with toppings, beverages, popcorn, candy and other snacks. Refreshment sales proceeds go to “Send a Kid to Camp,” a campership program for students in kindergarten through eighth grade, explained SYFS Director Laurie Sugarman-Whittier.
“Every year we get together with the schools and identify kids who could really benefit from the stimulation and structure of a summer camp, but their parents would not be able to send them,” she said.
Some local camps offer SYFS a reduced rate, which still leaves some costs to cover. Sugarman-Whittier noted that funds raised from last year's refreshment sales helped prepare the agency's process with the program.
“We could go into this year knowing that we's have some money,” she said. “Even with reduced rates we still have to pay for expenses. It's really helpful to go into the season knowing that we have a stash of money earmarked for that. The Friends of the Southborough Youth Commission, which is a private nonprofit, has been fantastically helpful to us over the years.”
This season's concert series began June 19 with the return of Soul Custody, a contemporary jazz band who recently performed at the Hudson Community Fest.? Favorites throughout central Massachusetts for 35 years, Chuck and Mud were joined by the Hole in the Dam Band for the July 10 concert.
Next, the Sheep Shaggers will perform Americana music July 24, which is the series” only concert without a rain date.
Some hometown musicians will take the stage Aug. 7 as groove rock is presented by the Raw Dawg House Band. Their rain date is Aug. 14.
Blackstone Valley Bluegrass began this year with a January performance in Southborough at the Steeple Coffeehouse. They'sl return to town Aug. 21 to conclude this concert series. Their rain date is Aug. 28. For rain date information, call 508-485-0710 and press 8.
Sugarman-Whittier is grateful for the concert guests” support for the “Send a Kid to Camp” program.
“The concert series is wonderful for the town and then it's a nice bonus that it helps us to fund our campership program,” she said.
For more information about Southborough Youth & Family Services, visit southboroughtown.com/YouthFamily/youthfam.htm#3. For more information about the Summer Concert Series, visit southborough.recdesk.com/recdeskportal; then click “Community Events.”