Over the next three months, the city of Alachua will be an open market for live music, local vendors and family fun.
The March, April & May (MAM) Concert Series kicked off March 19 at Legacy Park in Alachua, marking the first of three weekend events supporting local businesses and musicians. Partnering with VipperEvents, the city sponsored the series to reintroduce small businesses to the community and provide families with a safe and fun weekend outing.
The MAM series will consist of three weekendlong events from March 19-21, April 23-25 and May 21-23. The weekend events will run Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Fridays have been designated as movie nights, and Sundays will begin with a women’s empowerment 4K walk. Entry is free, but attendees can become “MAMers” with the purchase of special packages that include T-shirts, food and drink tickets and other sponsored items from vendors.
Each weekend will have a distinct musical theme. This weekend was the jazz, Latin and acoustic installment. April’s event will be Southern rock and country-focused, and the series will close in May with Southern blues and funk performances.
The idea for the MAM series originated as a way to utilize Legacy Park, a 180-acre recreational site that opened in Alachua in 2017. The city of Alachua contacted VipperEvents, a local event-planning business, in October 2020 to begin putting the series together.
The series was funded in part by the City of Alachua and organized by the cities of Alachua and High Springs. Student volunteers and sponsors such as Sienna Cafe, MARC Radio and the Women’s Club of Alachua also contributed to organization and operations of the event.
Jonathan Banks, head of VipperEvents, said his company has been involved with the city for years, spanning all the way back to when it was nothing more than a group of volunteers looking to lend a hand on city-sponsored projects.
“We actually structured this company to service the community,” Banks said. “Now that we have gotten this in line with the goals of Alachua, we formulated a company to reflect that.”
The next step in structuring the series was recruiting artists and vendors to participate. Banks said local and regional musicians submitted video auditions for a chance to perform, and the series enlisted a lineup of surprise “A-listers” to make appearances.
R.L. Bryant, director of the MAM series, said the businesses and artists were curated to provide talented musicians and vendors from the area with an opportunity to showcase their skills and products. This weekend’s lineup included artists La Lucha, Neptune’s Child, Gypsy Tears and more.
The event primarily serves as a reintroduction of local businesses to the community following the shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Bryant said.
“The city wanted to throw an event that brought the world back to commerce,” he said.
Live music and other entertainment aspects were added to further incentivize community participation, Bryant said.
“We look at it as the common denominators that bring people together,” Bryant said.
In revitalizing commerce, the MAM series also sought to boost community morale. Banks said with the combination of local business visibility, lodging for out-of-towners and the presence of more people in Alachua for the event, the entire city will benefit.
Bryant said the series will function as a reprieve for people who have been isolated since the onset of the pandemic. Masks will be encouraged, and Legacy Park’s 180-acre space encourages social distancing.
These provisions, Bryant said, will enable Alachua families to be safe and social — an opportunity Bryant said the city needs now more than ever.
“Overall, we want a fun environment where families can come out, enjoy themselves and go home and say, ‘Hey, it was great to get back to people,’” Bryant said.
Contact Heather Bushman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @hgrizzl.