Venues setting the stage for summer attractions

Crowds assemble for a concert at Ironstone Vineyards Amphitheatre in Murphys.

Business Journal Writer
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As temperatures rise during the summer months, so do visits to many of the area’s entertainment venues.

“There is a large uptick in the number of guests during the summer due to visitors of the area, the great weather and more opportunities to attend winery-related events throughout the Lodi Appellation,” said Sarah Williams, Wine Team Executive with Jessie’s Grove Winery in Lodi.

With the growing popularity of the Lodi Wine region, Jessie’s Grove enjoys steady year-round traffic.

The winery’s major summer attraction is Groovin’ in the Grove, a concert series in its 15th year featuring live music in the venue’s original oak grove.

“Our concerts are for all ages and we allow limited camping to guests after the concert in tents or RVs. We even cook breakfast in the morning,” Williams said.

Each concert attracts about 1,000 attendees and preparing the venue for the crowds is essential.

“Our summer concert series is all hands on deck! Our own staff sets up and takes down each event,” Williams said. “We bring in additional crews in the form of local artisan and food vendors to help enhance our customers’ experience.”

Booking begins at the conclusion of the previous summer’s series and tickets go on sale in April each year.

Murphy’s Ironstone Vineyards enjoys a surge during the summer months. With a lineup that includes 11 concerts, a July Fourth party and two yoga events, the venue is busy entertaining summertime visitors.

“Our Independence Day celebrations and fireworks typically attract 7,000 people,” said Mary Watts, Director of Sales and Marketing, Ironstone Vineyards. “Our yoga events are estimated to attract approximately 50 guests at each event.”

This year’s concerts, held in Ironstone’s outdoor amphitheater, include performances by Toby Keith, Boston and the Moody Blues, along with several other well-known musicians and bands.
“Total attendance for 11 concerts is estimated at 50,000,” said Billy Cohen, Director of Marketing, Richter Entertainment Group.

Richter Entertainment Group books artists for Ironstone’s concerts at least a year in advance and handles all ticketing.

“Concerts require approximately 300 extra show workers each show, plus hours of prep work by vineyard workers and show production staff for prep of season, maybe, 20 people doing different prep,” Cohen said.

Other nearby businesses enjoy the influx of visitors the winery generates.

“Booking your hotel room early for the Ironstone Concert Series is a must. Hotel rooms sell out even if the concert is not a sell out,” said Michele Lee, Marketing and Public Relations Director at Murphy’s Suites and Murphy’s Inn Motel. “Higher crowds build on Friday and Saturday naturally, therefore hoteliers are pleased with the addition of more Sunday and Monday concerts.”
As the weather begins to cool, Ironstone hosts the Concours d’Elegance, an annual antique and classic car show that attracted 5,000 guests and 350 vehicles last year.

This year’s show will be held Saturday, September 23.

“This event has raised more than $700,000 since it started over 20 years ago, benefiting 4-H Clubs, Future Farmers of America and the California State Fair Scholarship,” Watts said.
Stockton venues including the Stockton Arena, Bob Hope Theatre, Stockton Ballpark and Oak Park Ice Arena also are ready for summer visitors.

“At all of our venues we have a strong event line-up,” said Kendra Clark, General Manager of SMG Stockton, managing the venues on behalf of the City of Stockton.
Bob Hope Theatre bookings of Yes and Kansas are scheduled in August along with several yet-to-be-announced throughout the summer.

“Most of the shows will be if not sold-out, close to sold-out,” Clark said.

“Kaboom,” a July Fourth celebration, takes place on the top level of the parking garage adjacent to the Stockton Arena with live music, food and beverages along with prime viewing of a fireworks display.

“We’re also the anchor event for the Stockton Beer Week, so July 8 we will be hosting a brew fest in conjunction with Visit Stockton,” Clark said. “Here at the Arena there will be over 30 breweries that you’ll get to taste and we have live music and games such as life-sized Jenga and life-sized beer pong and a teeter-totter for adults.”

As with Jessie’s Grove and Ironstone Vineyards, SMG typically plans events well in advance.

“Right now, we’re planning for next summer. We also have events being planned for two summers from now,” Clark said.

Modesto’s Gallo Center for the Arts also books events a year in advance. The venue operates as a year-round attraction and attendance is fairly consistent throughout the year.

“Twelve to fourteen thousand is the anticipated attendance,” said Doug Hosner, Director of Marketing of this summer’s expected number of guests. “Summer attendance is comparable to other times of the year. The Gallo Center enjoys 200,000 visitors annually for all events.”

Maintenance for the Gallo center is managed throughout the year.

“The Gallo Center has 20 full-time and 20 part-time employees, with an additional 100 people on standby for some of the major productions such as Broadway touring shows,” Hosner said.


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