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Entertainment for everyone at Thursdays in the Park

This summer, the Rosemount Area Arts Council will present music, theater and other entertainment through their Thursdays in the Park series. The shows will take place at the Central Park amphitheater in Rosemount, and are open to the public.

The idea for a consistent programming schedule stems from what Rosemount used to have: Saturday shows downtown at the bandshell. According to John Loch, RAAC program chair, people used to come downtown to do their shopping on Saturdays, and listened to music while they shopped. This is the arts council's first try at a regular schedule for Rosemount's amphitheater.

"The arts council really likes the amphitheater, and we think it is kind of underutilized at this point," Loch said.

The council formed a committee for the series. The group has been hard at work for the past six months.

"We found that there were groups in town that would be willing to play at little or no price to us, and that's cool," Loch said. "It's all about local people."

When it came to picking a day of the week to have the performances, Loch said Thursday "just seemed to be a good day."

"We wanted to stay away from a weekend, because there are a lot of activities going on," Loch said.

The Leprechaun Days Committee as well as the city of Rosemount already had scheduled a few bands coming in on a Thursday, so the schedule came together smoothly.

Even though the arts council began planning the shows without money for a budget, they recently learned they would have a sponsor for the summer series.

"Fairview Rosemount (Clinic) had approached us to support the arts, to become a little more visible, and to support the community, and they asked if we had any opportunities," Loch said.

With the funding from Fairview, Loch is hoping the council will be able to add some additional shows to keep the series going through late August and into September.

In its first year, Loch has hopes the series brings people in.

"We don't expect huge crowds at any of these, but thats not the idea," Loch said. "It's for local people and we just want to get it in their frame of mind that, 'Oh, it's Thursday, we know something's going on at the amphitheater'."

Included in the lineup for the upcoming series is Sheltered Reality, which is a nonprofit youth oriented group. They use music and instruments to educate and advocate for those in need. Loch saw Sheltered Reality performing at the State Fair and grew interested in their unique drumming as well as their message.

"In between sets, they try to teach a positive message to teenagers, to young people," Loch said. "Their most popular one (was) going to different schools (for) anti-bullying."

There are also groups the RAAC has brought to Rosemount before, like the South of the River Community Band. South of the River Community Band is composed of over 60 members of a variety of ages. The band began playing music for church services, and now also performs both indoor and outdoor concerts throughout the Twin Cities.

There will also be groups from the Rosemount area, such as the Dance Connection dance studio and the Rosemount High School Band. Loch reached out to the Rosemount High School band director, wanting to draw people to the amphitheater, and, just as he thought for the group Sheltered Reality, "everybody likes drums."

"Shortly after (the band agreed), it was announced that they were going to the Rose Bowl, so it is pretty special," Loch said.

The series begins June 13, and Loch said he already has a vision for future summers of the series.

"Our goal is that maybe next year, particularly if we have support again or another source, we can plan something for every Thursday evening throughout the summer," Loch said.

A goodwill offering for Thursday Nights in the Park will be accepted, but every performance is free of charge.