A couple spun around and swayed back and forth as they boogied under the spring afternoon skies to the bluegrass music that vibrated through the speakers, dancing in-sync to the strumming guitar and banjo.
The duo two-stepped to the twanging instruments of Mountain Heart as they enjoyed 2012’s first Sunday in the Park on April 1. The event, hosted by the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, is a free outdoor concert series with performances on Sundays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the North Boulevard Town Square.
“Sunday in the Park is a very family-oriented event to really give people a chance to experience downtown,” said Jonathan Grimes, programmatic assistant for the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge.
For six Sundays in the spring and six Sundays in the fall, visitors to Sunday in the Park can experience live music from bands of all different styles.
“We’ve got a wonderful lineup of musicians this year,” said Derek Gordon, CEO of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge. “They really represent all genres, so there’s something for everybody.”
The various types of music, including country, zydeco, folk and Cajun acts, attract people each Sunday to come and enjoy the music at no cost.
“People have come because they know they’re going to hear a great act,” Gordon said. “We’ve proven that over the years with the quality of work. It’s just a great opportunity for families to come out and not have to worry about a ticket price.”
Regular Sunday in the Park attendee and Baton Rouge native, Cheryl Bright, said she rarely misses a performance.
“I come every Sunday that I have the opportunity to,” Bright said. “It’s a fabulous community event that everyone in Baton Rouge should experience. And I love that it’s free.”
Gordon believes the event allows people of Greater Baton Rouge to experience the downtown scene, while supporting various musical talents.
“What Sunday in the Park has done is given people an opportunity to enjoy downtown and the improvements that have been made here,” Gordon said. “It encourages people to get out and enjoy Baton Rouge and to enjoy one another. I think it’s been a real community-building opportunity.”
The newest improvement to downtown is the addition of the North Boulevard Town Square, a new pedestrian-friendly area located at the center of North Boulevard and Third Street.
“We had been over at the plaza at the Shaw Center, but with the advent of the new Town Square, we felt it was appropriate to move locations,” Gordon said. “It’s a nice new grass-laden area for people to come and bring their lawn chairs and blankets and listen to music, so we’re very excited about that.”
Each Sunday, visitors can also expect to find face painters and local food trucks selling anything from tacos to burgers. Grimes encourages attendees to visit the numerous downtown art and historical attractions before and after the shows to get the full downtown experience.
“You have the Louisiana Art and Science Museum, as well as the Shaw Center and the Old State Capitol,” Grimes said. “There’s just a lot to do in that North Boulevard block, so there’s a good bit of stuff to do after or before the event starts.”
Since its start in 2006, Sunday in the Park continues to attract larger numbers of people with its feature performances.
“Our numbers grow and grow every single year,” Grimes said. “We try to get top quality acts, and I think we’ve done a very good job of that. We’re really just trying to make the people of Baton Rouge happy.”
Visitors like David Normand, of Denham Springs, come each Sunday to appreciate the laid-back environment and unique acts.
“I’ve been coming for about three years,” Normand said. “I love the music, the atmosphere, the beautiful weather and the people that come out here.”
As each Sunday presents a new musical act, people of Baton Rouge and surrounding areas continue to come together to enjoy the company of their neighbors while grooving to the beat.
“My favorite thing about Sunday in the park is that people dance,” Gordon said. “They don’t know each other, but for that minute, when they’re dancing, they’re an ensemble.”
Mountain Heart performs a cover of the Allman Brothers’ classic, “Whipping Post,” at Sunday in the Park on April 1 in this B-Roll footage.