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Summer concert series takes a family-friendly approach
When the Dancing on the Avenue concert series was launched in 2005 organizers had relatively modest expectations for the event.
The Corydon Avenue series — the brainchild of former local Business Improvement Zone chair Michael Heitmann — has since become a fixture of Winnipeg summers.
And organizers are anticipating even bigger and better things from this year’s series, which began June 22 and will continue until the end of August.
Katia vonStackelberg, executive director of Corydon Avenue BIZ, said the popularity of the series has increased substantially since its humble beginnings.
"(Heitmann) started organizing concerts just a few Fridays in the summer, and started it with smaller concerts," she recalled. "He thought it would be fun to introduce a musical component to the avenue.
"Soon after we realized we wanted to do more of an acoustic type of concert, because it was less infringing on the residents, so the mode of operation changed. We bought our own tent and started hiring more acoustic bands. We moved away from the rock and loud music.
"The reason for the increase was the demand for them. People just loved them. We start getting calls about it in early January."
The concerts have continued to grow in popularity and are now held every Friday and Saturday night throughout the summer.
vonStackelberg said the series is constantly evolving.
"The reason for the increase was the demand for them. People just loved them. We start getting calls about it in early January," said vonStackelberg, who took over organizing the concert series after Heitmann retired.
One of the more recent changes to Dancing on the Avenue has been to make it more family-friendly.
"We’ve added a double dance floor, and now we put out lights and chairs. It’s really a lot of fun. We’re making it a place not only for people to come out and dance, but also for families to come out," she said.
Each concert also features an intermission with entertainment by the Laughter Without Borders troupe which features face painters, magicians, balloon makers and clowns.
The concerts are held at a different intersection on Corydon Avenue each weekend, from 7 to 10 p.m.
"We use different intersections, from the side street to the back alley. The whole street gets the flavour of it (throughout the summer)," said vonStackelberg, adding the series attracts people from across the city.
"Corydon is one of the very few areas in the city where Winnipeggers and tourists alike want to gather and stroll the avenue, which is very unique for Winnipeg."
The increase in pedestrian traffic has also been good for local business.
"It’s always great when there are more people in the area and they start to realize what’s around here," said Voula Sarlas, co-owner of Soul Shoes on the corner of Lilac Street and Corydon.
"We’ve been here for almost seven years and we still get discovered daily. People will come (to Corydon) for another event and walk around, and we’ll get discovered that way."
For a full schedules of this summer’s concerts visit corydonbiz.com.
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