By Sue Tiffin
After 30 years, Music by the Gull is moving to a new home.
The popular summertime event, in which bands set up on Water Street in downtown Minden to play for crowds sitting along the sidewalks in lawn chairs brought from home, is heading up the road to the fairgrounds.
Music Fridays at the Fairgrounds will begin July 1 with a concert presented by Gord Kidd and Friends and is sure to start the weekly music series with a bang as Canada Day fireworks will end the evening. After that, concerts will take place every Friday night beginning at 7 p.m and running until about 8:30 p.m., with start times changing for the evening light as the summer goes on.
Dan Bingham, who sits on the board that organizes the event, said the general consensus from the group was to try the change this year, despite the break from tradition.
“The consensus from the group is that the bands all thought it was a pretty good idea, just because it gave them more flexibility and less of a hassle and less worry about rain and stuff like that,” said Bingham. “Some members of the Lions Club and some members of the committee were not as enthusiastic about moving it as some of us were, but the general idea is that we’ll try it up there this year, and if it doesn’t work, we can always go back.”
Bingham noted it can be difficult for the group to barricade the roads, hustle the bands in to play and then exit so the roads can re-open, and deal with exposure in case of rain. The event has not happened during the pandemic, and he noted, “it’s been two years since it was downtown, and if there was ever a time to try something new, now would be the time to do it.”
“I understand with tradition and all that, but sometimes with new eyes – I classify myself as new eyes – sometimes it’s worth trying just because it’s the time,” he said. “Just because something has been there for 30 years doesn’t mean it always should be there. We’re trying to keep everyone’s feelings in consideration. We think the way we’re going to set it up, it’s going to be more beneficial for more people with less hassle.”
Bands will now play in the bandshell at the fairgrounds, with three areas of seating – options for blankets and lawn chairs in front, a semi-circle of picnic tables in the middle, or at the back of the crowd in cars if people prefer to listen from their vehicles with the windows down. The option allows for room to expand the space for the crowd, Bingham said, noting there are different options for different comfort levels of interaction during the ongoing pandemic.
“Understandably, I get the tradition and the ambience of being down by the Gull, but people have to remember we’re all getting older, it’s a fair bit of work to get that set up and torn down in the timeframe the municipality gives them, and they haven’t got the bodies,” said Bingham. “This way, one of the key things is that the bands can go up on Friday whenever they feel like it, and set up in the bandshell and there’s no worry. There’s lots of hydro there, they can plug in whatever they need to, and they’re protected, so even in a slight drizzle they can still perform because people can still sit in their cars.”
The concert series begins July 1 and runs until Sept. 2. Signage at the fairgrounds and in the downtown area will help inform the community of the change.
“The general feeling was let’s try it there, we think it’s a good idea, we’re hoping the public will support it, and we think it will make it a little bit easier for people to access,” he said.