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Quarter century of free concerts does not go unnoticed

Library Garden Summer Series committee honored for their efforts
By: Paul Cambra, Features Editor
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2013 lineup
Mick Martin
, June 16
Todd Morgan and the Emblems, June 23
Stardust Cowboys, June 30
The Anderson Family, July 14
Tom Rigney & Flambeau, July 21
When: 7-9 p.m. Sundays
Where: Library Garden Amphitheatre, 350 Nevada St., Auburn
Cost: Free. Picnics, blankets and low-back lawn chairs welcome
Info: www.placerarts.org

As the Library Garden Summer Series enters its 25th year, the committee behind it has a lot of people and organizations to thank for helping them along the way. From early program sponsors like the Chamber of Commerce and the Auburn Symphony, to the current one, PlacerArts, and the various businesses and service groups that have supported them over the years.
But the tireless work put in by the all-volunteer Summer Series Committee — Jeannette Duff, April Maynard, Juanita Garcia, Ryan Goodpastor, Katie Smith and Al Dumm — will be recognized at Auburn’s State of the Community Dinner as they receive the Auburn Cultural Award.
“It’s been produced year after year by the same citizen group,” said Angela Tahti, executive director of PlacerArts. “It goes because of this wonderful committee; it’s not going to happen without this group of people, we are so proud of them.”
She said that when the PlacerArts board is looking for a program to nominate, they look for one that gives something to the Auburn community and shows exemplary dedication in making it happen.
“They meet all the criteria and have for years,” Tahti said.
Committee chair — and charter member — Jeanette Duff said it was wonderful to be nominated.
“It’s a great honor and I really do feel that it is a collective effort,” she said.
And that goes back to day one, when a small group of people wanted to see Auburn have old-fashioned concerts in the park like so many communities across the nation do.
“The Auburn Rotary came in and graded the property adjacent to the library,” she said. “It was truly a grass roots effort.”
Throughout each year, the committee has to raise money and sponsorships, make sure the stage gets set up, greet the public before each show and, of course, book the bands.
“We think about it all the time,” said April Maynard, committee member since 1997. “We hear a band and ask for a card or CD and then the begging begins. ‘We can’t pay you that much.’ We try to mix it up between local and out of the area bands.”
And while Maynard admits organizations like this are always in need of volunteers, the crew they have now has things running pretty smoothly.
“We have the system down,” she said. “But you don’t have a concert if you don’t get money from somebody. It’s gotten harder and harder to rustle up money. The Auburn Host Lions really stepped up this year to help us out.”
The committee makes donations to youth oriented groups that help move equipment and set the stage up. And anyone who’s worked outside at 2:30 in the afternoon on a summer day in Auburn can appreciate their effort.
“But it’s never been hot during a concert,” Maynard said, “Between the lawn and the redwood trees,
it’s a really lovely setting. You can’t beat it.”
This is Katie Smith’s second year on the committee. She’s lived in Auburn for some time and was looking for a way to get involved in some local activities. She has been amazed by the amount of work the people do, and says the award is much appreciated.
“I think it’s terrific. We have to thank Placer Arts for giving us the opportunity to do this, they are a big backer. And we are very fortunate the Auburn Host Lions became involved.”
This year, when it came time to book bands, she said they looked at some of the most popular acts they’ve had in the past.
“We don’t want to appeal to just one demographic but to a whole range of ages and personalities,” she said. “Last year we were hosting some business professionals from Belarus. We took them and they thought it was wonderful.”
Now that’s some wide demographic appeal. But in the end, it’s about offering the Auburn community a free and local activity.
“These days the concert series draws a lot more families and young people,” Tahti said. “The need is greater for free accessible programs when the economy is bad. It’s a delightful activity in a nice location.”
Attendance seems to be picking up she said, though a dedicated core has been coming year after year. She also said that meet-up groups have earmarked this event as a great place to get together.
Maynard wants to make sure more people know about it.
“The last three years we’ve had some of our largest attendance, but you can run into somebody who has lived here forever that has never heard of it,” she said. “What I would like is that everybody knows it’s there. There are so many people in the community that really would enjoy a free concert on a Sunday. If receiving this award means that more people will hear about the concerts, then that’s great.”
Even better would be a boost in volunteers. Duff said she would love to have a larger committee, especially on concert days when “workers bees” are needed. One of the toughest elements is getting the sound right, and she feels fortunate to have Ryan Goodpastor — and before him Eric Chun — on the committee, because hiring a sound guy is prohibitively expensive.
“We really rely on the community to support us,” she said. “From our sponsors to program advertisers to our audience, if we lose one of those pieces it starts to break down.”
She points out former longtime committee members Lila Swesey and Doris Vera, who are no longer involved on a daily basis, but their spirit is still here. And like the current members, they too are music lovers.
“All of us are that way or we wouldn’t be on committee,” Duff said.