From its humble beginnings at the Kelly Plantation Outdoor Theatre, where families and friends gathered each Sunday to enjoy live music, the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF) outdoor concert series has evolved into an 18-year tradition.
In fact, the evolution has led to a new name and new stage. Concerts in the Village (formerly Concerts in the Park) will kick off on May 2 with an enhanced venue at the Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village, featuring the new Dugas Pavilion and Village Green.
"We are extremely excited about the new permanent stage, expanded Village Green, on-site parking and brand new restroom facility," said MKAF Executive Director Marcia Hull.
"The concert series was one of the first outdoor concerts in Destin, and we are thrilled that it has become an anticipated signature event that connects the community through the arts."
The 18th Annual Concerts in the Village has grown to include 10-weeks of outdoor concerts. Voted as one of the top 10 things to do in Northwest Florida by Florida Travel & Tourism Guide, the concerts are held every Thursday evening at 7 p.m. in May and June, followed by a concert finale on Wednesday, July 3rd.
"This year's line-up is stellar," said Hull. "We know our concert-goers want to see exceptional musicians perform upbeat music, and by the end of the night, our guests want to dance. Our chairman has selected local and regional acts that feature diverse instrumentation by talented musicians and electrifying entertainers."
Kicking off the 2013 season, the Fountain City Players will christen the Dugas Pavilion with the sounds of Motown, R&B, and jazz on May 2. Founded three years ago by Doug Norman, Ben Weldon and Norris Dates, the band brings more than 40 years of musical experience, performing rhythm and blues, ranging from the 1960s to the sounds of present day.
The concerts continue each Thursday with a diverse line-up that includes country, pop, rock, and reggae, among other genres. On May 23, China Grove will perform a tribute to the Doobie Brothers and on June 27, the Alter Eagles will pay homage to the Eagles. Local favorites including Deja Vu and Heritage will take the stage as will David Seering, who will close out the season on Wednesday, July 3, with the "Let Freedom Ring" performance. Seering will perform an evening of patriotic favorites in honor of Independence Day and the men and women who serve our country, as well as Americana music from a variety of composers.
Nestled among nearly 45 acres of pristine forest and wetlands, the newly-developed concert venue features the Dugas Pavilion, which is covered by a majestic 60 foot by 81 foot canvas canopy and expanded Village Green. Located less than two miles west of Destin Commons, the Cultural Arts Village is designated by Destin's newest public art installation, a 20-foot stainless steel sculpture created by Sculpture Artist Frank Ledbetter.
"We're hopeful that the new venue and diverse line-up will help us reconnect with the many art and music fans in our community," continued Hull. "The concerts are fun for all ages and kids are welcome. Admission to all 10 concerts is included with your Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation membership. It's a great value."
Concert-goers are encouraged to bring their favorite lawn chair and a picnic or purchase dinner prepared fresh on-site by either Carrabba's Italian Grill or Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q, which rotate weekly. Bottled water and soft drinks are available for purchase with proceeds benefiting the MKAF's cultural and education mission. Admission is $8 per adult or $15 per couple, and children under 12 and MKAF members are free.
Attendees may park at the Grace Lutheran Church and on-site, once the grass parking lot is completed. For more information, visit www.MattieKellyArtsFoundation.org or call 850-650-2226.