Unique concert features bluegrass band
However, no one could have foreseen how popular the event would become.
“It’s a treasured event here,” said Peg McCarty, GAAA director. “Some people plan their entire vacations around this concert.”
Entering its 14th year, the Dune Climb Concert takes place at the base of the legendary Sleeping Bear Dunes. This year’s concert features the Michigan-based bluegrass band Detour and will be held on Sunday at 7 p.m. Keeping with the event’s tradition, the concert will be free to anyone holding a park pass.
McCarty has been involved in planning the event since the 2004 season. She remembers attending the first concert though, an event that sparked her interest to become involved with the art association.
“I remember going to it in ’98 and it was just amazing,” she said. “To be outside with the beautiful music and to have all those families around was just such a great thing.”
The Manitou Music Festival began in 1991, and is considered the brainchild of co-founder Crispin Campbell. She’s a native Californian and cello instructor at the Interlochen Arts Academy. The Dune Climb Concert was born in 1998 when then director Campbell collaborated with the Traverse City Symphony Orchestra to put on the first open-air concert at Sleeping Bear Dunes.
“He was able, because of his connections in the music world, to put a really interesting series together,” McCarty said. “When he got the idea to have a big concert at the Dune Climb, the art association board was very excited about the idea and worked really hard to make it a possibility.”
The inaugural concert was a success, but the GAAA was unable to hold a second one the following year due to high cost. The Manitou Music Festival returned to the dunes in 2000 and has since become an annual event, drawing over 2,200 people each year. According to McCarty, the popularity of the concert can also be attributed to an atmosphere that’s attractive to audiences of all ages.
“People bring their children, grandparents, pretty much everybody comes,” she said. “It’s especially nice for families with young children because they can run up and down the dunes and play in the back ground.
“It’s delightful to hear everyone having fun while the music is going on.”
The outdoor atmosphere is perfect. Parents needn’t worry about constantly hushing restless family members, and the non-restrictive seating ensures that everyone who attends will be able to enjoy the event. McCarty said that some people will choose to make their seats up in the dunes, giving them a unique perspective and adding to an already unparalleled experience.
The stage is placed in front of the parking area at the climb site, facing toward the dunes. Some seating is pro- vided, though the majority of concertgoers bring their own lawn chairs. The stage area is covered by a tent, but a secondary location at the Glen Arbor Town Hall exists in the event of inclement weather.
McCarty says they’ve never had to resort to moving the concert though.
“There were times when it was pretty close,” she said, laughingly. “We had to cross our fingers a few times, but the skies always seemed to part and the show would go on.”
The music is always diverse, featuring many different genres throughout the years. Though artists from around the country have performed, the GAAA does its best to choose Michigan musicians as often as possible.
“We have a committee that makes the selection for the concert and we do a lot of research,” McCarty said. “We try to get Michigan artists because we like to support our state musicians as much as possible, but it has to be a group that can perform outdoors and to a large audience.”
As the event draws near, members of the GAAA are gearing up for what is expected to be another incredible performance. McCarty made it quite clear however, the event wouldn’t be possible without the vast support from community corporate sponsors such as Art’s Tavern, Cherry Republic, Glen Lake Chamber of Commerce, The Homestead Resort, Huntington Bank and McCahill’s Crossing Motel and Dairy Bar.
Just as important are the individual volunteers that help direct traffic, hand out programs, provide shuttles to overfl ow parking areas and many other things to ensure the show always goes on.
“We’re very thankful to everyone who helps make this concert possible every year,” McCarty said. “It’s always a beautiful show and we’re very excited to welcome Detour to the stage.”