The David Mallett Band performs under the gazebo in 2018 at Oakland Waterfront Park. Photo courtesy of Oakland Waterfront Park

Oakland Waterfront Park this summer will welcome bands and concertgoers back to the shores of the Messalonskee Lake for a revival of the town’s free summer music series.

After a pause in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Oakland Parks and Recreation Department is planning eight concerts for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Thursday from July 8 to Aug. 26.

“We had discussions pretty early on over the winter just trying to keep an eye on the guidelines,” said Media and Special Activities CoordinatorRyan Sucy who leads the day-to-day operations of the music series. “When the spring came around and we started getting ready for baseball, the guidelines loosened enough where we thought we could make something work.”

Sucy, Parks and Recreation Director Eric Seekins and volunteer Chris McPherson met via Zoom to plan the third year of the music series. They spoke about planning different types of concerts, whether to limit each event to a single act and other options.

In 2019, the music series exceeded its attendance goals, gaining 50% more attendees from the previous year. The Parks and Recreation Department took calls all spring asking if the music series would be back this summer, according to organizers.

“There’s definitely a lot of excitement out there,” Sucy said.

Oakland Waterfront Park features a gazebo, swim area, boat launch and tables and grills.

Seekins said he sought out sponsors for the concert series, which include Camp Manitou, Coldwell Banker Plourde Real Estate, Fabian Oil, Higgins & Bolduc Insurance, Kennebec Savings Bank and The Korner Store & Deli. No sponsor has left since the music festival began.

In partnership with the town, the Oakland Lions Club brings its food truck to provide concessions.

Given that Maine’s coronavirus-related state of emergency is scheduled to end at the end of June, there will be no capacity limit, physical-distancing rules or protective mask requirements at the concerts, according to organizers.

The musical performers, booked by McPherson, include Maine-based acts: Old Blues Kats, Eric Lunt, Sa’hara Melody, Richie Bartolo, Jeff Tones, Detour Project, Will McPherson and Fossils.

“We really decided that once that got lifted, we’d be getting pretty close to normal,” Sucy said. “We’ve got a great group of bands, trying to mix some old people that we’ve had before with some new people. We’re just very excited — after missing one year — to be back and have such a great event.”

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