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Bigger stage set for amphitheater

The Roberts Park amphitheater stage hosted the Country Showdown musical talent contest last summer. Plans call for doubling the stage size and improving the lighting.

By BOB HANSEN - bhansen@newsexaminer.com

The Roberts Park amphitheater stage will be twice as large as now after the Fayette County Bicentennial.

The Fayette County Tourism Board has approved spending about $25,000 to double the size of the stage and install a new lighting system. 

The Fayette County Bicentennial planning committee proposed the changes.

The committee, which is responsible to the Tourism Board, started talking a couple of months ago about doing something that would leave a lasting legacy after 2019, the county Bicentennial year, Mike Sparks, committee co-chairman, said.

“We feel it (the stage) is the thing we could do that would have the longest effect in the county,” Sparks said.

He said the Connersville Bicentennial celebration in 2013 had several activities that required a stage and lighting. The city Bicentennial spent nearly $10,500 for a temporary stage at 5th Street and Central Avenue. At that time, the amphitheater stage separated from the grandstand by the race track.

Since, a stage has been constructed under the amphitheater roof. It is that stage which will be expanded.

Contractors have estimated that material for covering the existing stage with a new deck and nearly doubling its size would cost about $5,900, Sparks said.

New LED stage lights with a control board that can be raised and lowered would cost about $18,803, he said.

Plans for the county Bicentennial include two stage shows in the amphitheater, he said. That means the stage improvements need to be in place by May 16.

The county Bicentennial committee has been raising money and, as of last Thursday, had raised more than $56,000, according to Vickie, with more anticipated. Of that amount, about $40,558 has been committed for programs, projects and activities. 

Sparks asked the Tourism Board to be allowed to spend up to $14,000 for the stage and lighting project. Connersville Mayor Harold Gordon has said the city would provided up to $10,000 for the project, if needed. Sparks said he hopes that won’t be necessary.

“The reason I committed up to $10,000 is that the money will make it a better venue for groups to visit. Now, it doesn’t get used like it should,” Gordon said.

During its meeting last week, the Connersville Parks Board approved a request from Bicentennial committee member Jackie Church, calling for spending about $8,025 on the lighting project. The Parks and Recreation Department is responsible for the amphitheater.

The Tourism Board approved the expenditure Thursday. Board member Corinne Westerfield voted against it after some discussion of the budget.

Sparks said the project will be a legacy from the county Bicentennial. “I would like to see a plaque” at the amphitheater stage, saying, “This is from Fayette County citizens now to Fayette County citizens in the future.”