St. C. concert season deemed a success

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The city of St. Clairsville’s amphitheater has seen a lot of action since it was built in 2011 — and this year was no exception.

The city’s final free concert of the season was held this past Tuesday featuring Pittsburgh-based Bon Journey, a cover band that plays hits from both Bon Jovi and Journey.

The field around the facility, located beside the J.B. Martin Recreation Center at 102 Fair St., held about 400 spectators. The accompanying playground also was full of children climbing, running and jumping to the music. A large inflatable was available for free, and a vendor was on site selling wood-fired pizzas made in a large oven.

Construction of the wooden amphitheater structure was made possible by a $140,000 federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant passed through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The city also provided matching money. Volunteers from East Richland Friends Church and the First Presbyterian Church of St. Clairsville helped build the structure six years ago. That area is often referred to as “Central Park,” said Lindsay Piccolini, director of the St. Clairsville Recreation Department.

She said in addition to Bon Journey the facility this summer hosted several other bands, including the popular Hit Play and Pardon the Interruption, which is a band that has two members who are also city workers — Roger Herbert and Jason Duvall.

“We had a really successful concert season this year. … Our goal is to give people an enjoyable evening with an easy entrance and exit,” she said. “We are continuing to work on adding new vendors and concessions. … We’re trying to involve the community more.”

She noted Colerain Golf Cart Sales provided free rides to and from the parking lot to the site for those who needed help.

While the weekly Tuesday concerts may be done for the season, Piccolini said the annual Bark at the Park event is slated for 1 p.m. Oct. 7. The Halloween-themed event invites people to dress up their dogs who are then judged for best costume, scariest costume and other categories.

Speaking of dogs, Piccolini said the recreation center staff is starting to discuss possibly having a dog park installed in the Central Park area, as there is some undeveloped land still available.

Piccolini noted while donations are always accepted and used toward hiring the bands, the city of St. Clairsville typically budgets between $14,000 and $15,000 for the concerts each year.

“The city is forking over a decent amount of money — but it’s worth it for this perk,” she added.

She noted Lucy and Kelsey Baboul, who run the dance programs for recreation department, can be seen holding donation buckets in the parking areas before the concerts.

“Our general rule of thumb is that we bring back and introduce new bands each season. And we try to have two truly local bands. We also reserve a spot for crowd favorites by looking at attendance. Hit Play — we didn’t realize they were so popular. They were one of the biggest acts we had. We have over 500 people that night. When it starts getting to 400 or so, we start getting people (on top of the hill),” Piccolini said.