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Music in the Park might continue back to its roots

Redoubt Reporter file photo

Soldotna’s Music in the Park series will sound different than expected this year but the show might still go on.

Soldotna Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Shanon Davis spoke to the Soldotna City Council on Wednesday night. The chamber secured another $25,000 grant from the Levitt AMP Foundation to fund an expanded music series this summer, bringing in bands from outside the peninsula and Alaska. But with the uncertainty of the pandemic, the chamber decided to take Levitt AMP’s offer to defer the money until next year.

“A month ago I was absolutely convinced that there wasn’t going to be a need for that but as time’s gone on, I realized this could be a real opportunity for us because it would be dangerous for us to take that grant not knowing if we can actually fly the bands that we booked here to Alaska or if we’ll even be able to gather because our number-one priority is the safety of the members of our community,” Davis said.

Levitt AMP is offering a $5,000 grant to help with some sort of a concert series this summer. Davis said the chamber will stage the weekly concerts as soon as health mandates allow, with local bands, rather than those from Outside.

“We will be nimble, and the moment that we can put, safely, bands on the stage in Soldotna Creek Park, we will do that. And we will do it with our local musicians who helped us grow Soldotna Music in the Park to what it is today,” Davis said.

Davis said the chamber will wait for direction from the city on when to reopen the chamber’s office and visitor center to the public. In the meantime, the chamber is working on a couple of projects.

With the governor’s announcement that restaurants can open to limited dine-in service Friday, the chamber is maintaining a database of area eateries to let the public know which will be open for dine-in versus take-out.

“I love the fact that I have an excuse to eat out every single night, because I’m just supporting the local economy,” Davis said.

Retail establishments are allowed to open Friday, as well, under restrictions, and the chamber is maintaining a separate database for those businesses. Both are promoted in a Facebook group, Greater Soldotna take-out and Delivery Options.

“No matter what we’re doing right now, it feels a little bit inadequate with everything that is happening but we will continue to work hard behind the scenes,” Davis said.

The chamber continues to hear from seasonal, tourism-related businesses fearing the worst this summer. Davis said the chamber is deferring chamber membership renewal payments until September for businesses unable to pay right now.

“With everything that is happening, and we’re following the Swan Lake Fire from last year, we’re very concerned about our tourism members,” she said.

All the peninsula chambers and the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council are creating a “Playcation” campaign, encouraging residents to enjoy their own back yard this year.

“How wonderful is it that we live in the most beautiful place in all of Alaska. It’s in our backyard. We can walk out our back door. We can drive 70 miles in the summer and be in Kachemak Bay,” Davis said.

Davis said the Alaska Travel Industry Association is applying for a $50 million grant to help the tourism industry recover. Half would go to the state for general tourism marketing and the rest would be divvied up between regional and local tourism marketing agencies. She didn’t have a timeline on when that decision would be made or how much money would potentially come to the peninsula.

Jenny Neyman has been the general manager of KDLL since 2017. Before that she was a reporter and the Morning Edition host at KDLL.
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