Jul. 17—Party in the Park in Painesville started out as a barbecue with a petting zoo and a clown. Now, it has grown into Ohio's largest free music festival.
Party in the Park, which runs July 15-17 on the square in Painesville, has been going on since 1979, according to Pam Morse, co-chair of Party in the Park and president of the Painesville Community Improvement Corporation (PCIC).
PCIC, established in 1976 as a community nonprofit organization, sponsors the festival.
"From my understanding, in the beginning, it was a bunch of fellas with barbecues on the gazebo, which is now different. That's a new one," Morse said, pointing to the new gazebo. "It was very small and community oriented. Then it evolved slowly into the music fest and then to a three-day music festival. The very first event, when they fundraised, they used it to beautify downtown Painesville by buying flowers, which we continue to do today after the event."
This year, Morse expected between 70,000 to 100,000 spectators. On the first day of the festival, between 15,000 to 20,000 were in attendance, she said.
"In the evening, it was packed," Morse said. "You could not even move."
The festival's VIP zone is sponsored by Soul Shake and the Eastside Horns, a band that will close Sunday night. The VIP ticket also included food by The Shop and Mr. Lee's. In addition, this is the first year PCIC has been responsible for the adult beverages at the PCIC bar.
"It has been excellent," Morse said. "I was up in the ticket sales area yesterday. One fella was here with his wife and another couple. They're going to be here for the whole weekend. He bought 38 tickets, so they're planning on having a blast. I think the lineup of music is incredible. We have a phenomenal family fun zone, which has been sponsored by Signature Health, Mr. Hero in Painesville Township and Mr. Hero in Painesville along with a lot of other local businesses. We get some big sponsors, but even our small businesses sponsor. The community involvement for sponsorship is incredible."
Morse extends her thanks to what she calls the "blue shirt group," key people who work tirelessly throughout the year to organize, fundraise and put on the event.
"Without them, it wouldn't happen," Morse said. "I want to thank our volunteers, who are the people pouring beer, picking up trash and cleaning up the VIP table, Painesville and all their employees and the officers. Without them, we would not be here."