By PATRICK DEWEY • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
After a year of limited social gatherings in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Cooperstown Lakefront Concert Series is slated to return on Tuesday evenings in July and August.
Rich McCaffrey, who organized the shows through the Village Parks Board for 15 years, has retired and the Village Parks Board will be helped by the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce and Randy Smith, a volunteer passionate about arts and music in the local community.
“We owe McCaffrey a tremendous debt of gratitude for almost single-handedly doing what will now be done by multiple people,” said Deputy Mayor Cindy Falk.
To aid success of the new partnership, Smith and Tara Burke, director of the Cooperstown Chamber, developed a survey. The quick survey asks distance from Lakefront Park, age range, group size and musical taste.
The survey is available on the Chamber website until June 21.
“We are coming together to preserve a much beloved tradition,” Burke said.
Thanks to his father and brother, Smith was passionate about music from a young age, he said.
Smith grew up in Toddsville, then moved to California after college. He said the 22 years he spent there helped him recognize that each region has a distinct music scene.
In 2019, Smith, who had returned to Cooperstown five years prior, started the Facebook page “Live Music Cooperstown.” The page grew out of the tendency of locals to ask Smith about Cooperstown music. From school plays to operas and rock music, it’s all on the Facebook page, he said.
Falk said Smith’s page was a big part of why, when McCaffery retired, she recommended Smith.
“He had his finger on the pulse of the music scene. Who was playing, their schedules, and contact info,” she said.
Smith said the 2021 lineup will include two shows by the Cooperstown Community Band, including opening night.
In addition, the series will feature local bands who have played gigs at Red Shed Brewery and the Brewery Ommegang fire pit.
“They may be new to the Lakefront bandstand but should be familiar to locals,” Smith said.
Falk said the coming together of various generations and the picturesque setting of Lakefront Park have always been highlights of the series.