SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — We’re a couple of weeks removed from the inaugural season of Levitt at the Falls in downtown Sioux Falls. This first year of free concerts exceeded expectations by outdrawing all the other Levitt venues across the country.
That’s quite an accomplishment considering Sioux Falls is the smallest city that hosts Levitt concerts. Now Levitt organizers are planning their encore for 2020.
The only crowds you’ll find flocking to Levitt at the Falls these days are the geese that congregate on the grass. The site of wildlife taking over the green space in front of the Levitt shell makes local music fans wistful for the warm summer nights of live music.
“I joked to some friends, I said, well, maybe we can bring our lawn chairs out here on Sunday and have a little makeshift concert ourselves,” Stacy Wrightsman of Sanford Health Community Relations said.
As the Levitt staff packs up for the season, they’re not about to take their first year success sitting down. In the coming weeks, they’ll be traveling to conferences across the country, booking acts for next season.
“There are so many logistics that go into these bands moving around the country. The cost of a band is determined by where they are before they come to you. So there’s a lot that goes into it. The timing is tricky to make sure that who you want is available when you can get them versus somebody else,” Levitt at the Falls Executive Director, Nancy Halverson said.
Financial support from the community has been a key to the Levitt’s success. Sanford Health has committed to helping keep the concerts free to the public for the next four years.
“When you look at what happened this summer here at the Levitt and people really coming together to experience life together, to experience community together, that’s what I see as the biggest benefit,” Wrightsman said.
Levitt at the Falls will have to step-up its off-season fundraising because the plan is to host 20 additional concerts next year. Levitt leaders are confident they can raise the money. “We’ve already had such a great response. Yesterday, I’ve had three emails from companies saying gosh, we missed out last year, how can we get in for 2020,” Halverson said.
But a longer season presents its own set of challenges. The outdoor concerts planned for 2020 could be stretching into October.
“The biggest challenge is our weather. How will that work out? How far can we go into the fall? Plus, we have so many great outdoor events going on in town, we want to make sure that we’re not competing with others and supporting them as much as possible,” Halverson said.
Halverson says people who stayed away because of the summer heat might be more likely to attend a concert in the cooler fall weather. A minimal number of rain-outs helped boost attendance this summer. Levitt organizers anticipated 20,000 attendees this year.
Instead, more than 65,000 turned out. They’re hoping to draw even more people next year with 50 concerts on the schedule. The key will be once again, bringing in acts that appeal to a wide range of musical tastes.
“The thing that we know people responded to well was the diversity of music. So we will try to emulate that. But other than that, it’s going to be all new,” Halverson said.
Levitt performers can chill-out inside the Green Room before taking the stage. They have plenty of creature comforts including a refrigerator when they can have a snack and drink refreshments before playing. The room has plenty of furniture: even a makeup area with mirrors. Check this out. Look at this coffee table that has the autographs of most of the performers who played here this past summer.
The signature sound of Levitt at the Falls will resonate with crowds for years to come.
“Mind-blowing. In one word. Absolutely mind-blowing,” Wrightsman said.
Levitt at the Falls expects to announce its 2020 lineup next spring. One act they want to bring back next season is the all-female country group Farewell Angelina, whose performance earlier this month was cut short by rain.
They’ll also be hosting a series of fundraising concerts during this off-season. The first is next month at Queen City Bakery.