Posted: June 11, 2015 Sounds Like Summer concerts' popularity reflects Phoenix Park area rebirth
On a cool March day back in 2006, Nick Meyer, founder of the Sounds Like Summer Concert Series, took a walk around a still-under-construction Phoenix Park.
Trudging through some snow piles that refused to melt, Meyer came upon a hill and beneath it a labyrinth with rocks placed around its sides and the Chippewa River in the backdrop.
"That place inspired the series," Meyer said.
Later in May, about 100 people bundled up and listened to the first ever Sounds Like Summer concert. The next show saw 200, and 300 attended the next one.
Ten years later, and over 1,000 people come to each Sounds like Summer concert, and sometimes the crowds can surpass 4,000, Meyer said.
The original intent of the park was for concerts but not to the magnitude that Sounds Like Summer draws, said Phil Fieber, director of Eau Claire's Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department.
Phoenix Park's facilities were built to handle groups in the hundreds, not the thousands, Fieber said.
"But people tend to over look these hardships and want to be in the park, which it makes so successful," Fieber said.
Phoenix Park was originally the site of Phoenix Steel, and grounds were so contaminated that the city had to decide to either make a parking lot or a park to manage the contaminated soil, Fieber said.
The city decided to go with a park and aptly named it Phoenix Park as the new beginning, or rebirth, of the downtown area, Fieber said.
From that rebirth came the Sounds Like Summer series, the downtown farmers market and other events on the park's grounds, but the beauty of the park is that it can hold almost any event, Fieber said.
"Each generation will look at the park a little differently," Fieber said. "It will change with time, as people relate to it, not as Volume One's Sounds Like Summer music concerts but as a place for a theater production or for poetry readings."
To read the rest of the article, click here to visit the Leader Telegram's website.