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Pops at the Post concert gets a new time and place

By Maggie Blackwell
For the Salisbury Post

SALISBURY — Pops at the Post, downtown Salisbury’s annual outdoor symphony concert, is moving this year to a new location and will start at a new time.

The free concert will be at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer and will start at 7:30 p.m. on June 1. Tailgating, contests and other activities will begin earlier in the day.

The name of this year’s concert is “Pops at the Post, Railway Edition.”

For the past 10 years, the concert has been in downtown Salisbury with attendees gathering in the large parking lots bounded by Church, Fisher, Jackson and Innes streets. The symphony sets up on the loading dock at the Salisbury Post, with the building creating a band shell of sorts that radiates the music to concertgoers.

Jason Walser, executive director of the Robertson Family Foundation, told the Pops board about six months ago that the area would not be available on June 1 and perhaps next summer as well. The bank has been demolished in preparation for construction of Bell Tower Green, a new park. Construction of the park is estimated to take 18 months.

The Pops board considered a number of venues, including the Salisbury High School stadium, Catawba College’s Keppel Auditorium, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and Livingstone College.

“The museum seems to be the best option,” said board Co-Chairman Joe Morris. “We believe it will be successful. The Transportation Museum has been unbelievably hospitable to us, and we appreciate their welcoming us.”

Board members met with Spencer Mayor Jim Gobbel, the Spencer police chief and the town administrator, and “they couldn’t have been more welcoming,” Morris said. “They’re very excited about the opportunity to have us, very supportive. I would say they are ‘gung-ho.’”

Audrey Eudy, co-chairwoman of the board, has been working to make the concert a successful one. It will be in the museum’s Back Shop, one of the first buildings visitors see as they approach the grounds. Limited seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Guests are encouraged to bring their own chairs.

Because the concert will be indoors, weather doesn’t pose a challenge as it has in years past. Tailgaters will set up in the grass area north of the Back Shop and may arrive as early as 3 p.m.

Because the Transportation Museum is open for business that day, tailgaters will come a little later than usual so as not to interfere with museum guests.

The downtown Salisbury location had room for only 30 tailgating spots. With 60 spots at the Transportation Museum, more people can enjoy the party. Reservations will be accepted soon for tailgating spots.

Morris approached Gobbel’s wife, Marla, and asked her to head a committee to feature the best that Spencer has to offer during the concert. The committee has come up with a number of mini-events during Pops at the Post.

Committee members include Spencer residents Beth Nance, Jacquelyn Jensen and Drew Roseman.

Because Spencer has recently legalized golf carts in the town limits, the committee is planning a golf cart parade on the museum grounds at 5:30 p.m. Participants are encouraged to decorate their golf carts. One golf cart will be selected as the winner.

Tailgaters are encouraged to decorate their spots, as well.

The themes for both decoration contests are patriotism and railroads. Participants may decorate golf carts or tailgate spot based on either theme.

Children 5 and younger are encouraged to dress as “Little Railroaders.” Judges will select the cutest costumes, and prizes will be awarded, one for boys and one for girls.

The committee also will sponsor a brownie bakeoff, with judges selecting the winners who will be awarded gifts from Spencer merchants.

Times for the contests will be announced later.

As in recent years, the Salisbury Swing Band will play from 5 to 7 p.m.

Since this year is the 75th anniversary of D-Day, Maestro David Hagy has prepared a program celebrating the armed forces as well as transportation. Special guests will be veterans of World War II, with about 50 seats at the front of the venue reserved for veterans and their families.

The program will feature Livingstone College student Tyvaun James, a pianist who performs, in Hagy’s words, “about the best piano improvisation I’ve ever seen.” He’ll accompany the orchestra in “Take the A Train.”

Average attendance for Pops concerts has ranged from 3,000 to 4,000. The back shop accommodates 2,700 people, and the tailgating area will accommodate about 400 to 500 tailgaters.

Accommodations are being made to get high-quality sound to the tailgaters because of their distance from the orchestra.

The Transportation Museum has two parking lots with a total of about 400 spots. Additionally, the Plaza across the street offers about 200 spaces. Attendants will be on hand to assist with parking.

Golf carts with drivers will be available to for shuttle service from the parking lots to the Back Shop. Vendors will sell food, snacks and drinks.

First responders and police officers will be on hand to ensure the concert is safe and family friendly.

Restrooms will be provided.

The concert will end at “9:30-ish,” according to Hagy.

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