Concertgoers listen during one of the weekly concerts in the park, put on as part of the Levitt AMP Soldotna Music Series in Soldotna, Alaska, in the summer of 2017. (Photo courtesy Andrew Heuiser/Soldotna Chamber of Commerce)

Concertgoers listen during one of the weekly concerts in the park, put on as part of the Levitt AMP Soldotna Music Series in Soldotna, Alaska, in the summer of 2017. (Photo courtesy Andrew Heuiser/Soldotna Chamber of Commerce)

Weekly concerts in Soldotna start tonight

Seward band Blackwater Railroad Company will headline the 1st event

Wednesdays at Soldotna Creek Park are about to get loud.

Tonight marks the first night of the Levitt AMP Soldotna Music Series, a series of 12 free concerts taking place every Wednesday from June 5 to Aug. 21. Tonight’s concert will be headlined by Blackwater Railroad Company, a folk and bluegrass band based out of Seward. Opening for Blackwater Railroad Company will be the Cow Skinners, a rock group based in the central peninsula.

The Cow Skinners will be making their Soldotna Music Series debut, but the folks in Blackwater Railroad Company are no strangers to the event. Andrew Heuiser, the events and programs director for the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce, said that Blackwater has been a staple of the concert series and has made appearances since the event first started in the summer of 2015.

In addition to live music, the event will feature local food trucks and craft booths, as well a different family-friendly lawn activity every week. This week, folks young and old can embrace the music festival spirit by tie-dyeing bandanas courtesy of Drunken Forest Tie Dye. Heuiser said that the lawn activities will start at 5 p.m., and the bands will hit the stage at 6 p.m. The food trucks and craft booths are likely to vary from week to week, but Heuiser said that he is hoping for an appearance from Yo! Taco, Wok n’ Roll and local knife-maker Bill Peace with Alaska Knife and Sheath.

The Levitt AMP Soldotna Music Series, formerly known as Soldotna’s Music in the Park Series, has grown significantly since its inception in 2015. Heuiser said during a presentation to the Soldotna Chamber on May 1 that only a handful of people showed up to the first concert and the organizers were initially nervous about its success.

“Now it’s not surprising to see 1,000 people at Soldotna Creek Park on Wednesday nights,” Heuiser said.

This year, the Soldotna Chamber received a $25,000 matching grant from the Mortimer and Mimi Levitt Foundation for the music series. The grant allowed Heuiser and the other organizers to bring in a wider array of performers while keeping the concerts free to the public. The grant is part of the Levitt AMP Your City Initiative, which aims to use live music to unite communities and small towns around the country. Soldotna was one of 18 cities to receive the grant this year.

The popularity of the concert series has surged so much that it has, at this point, outgrown Soldotna Creek Park’s capacity for parking. Heuiser said that the organizers were aware of the potential of insufficient parking. Davis Block & Concrete Company, which is located adjacent to the park, has agreed to accommodate the overflow parking.

Heuiser said that other local businesses in the vicinity will be making their parking available as well, and a parking map can be viewed online at the Levitt AMP Soldotna Music Series Facebook Page.

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