By CAROLINE VAN DEN BERG
District 3 City Commissioner, Patrick Austin, met me with an inviting smile and cheerful enthusiasm to discuss his plans for the 2nd Annual Sanford Jazz in the Park. Last year’s inaugural event was quite a success, and this year is expected to be even better. Passionate about all things Sanford and drawing from his own experience as a vocalist, Austin knew that Sanford needed a family-friendly event dedicated to listening to and appreciating Jazz music. Further, he recognized that the city’s parks are one of its most underutilized amenities. In an effort to highlight a diverse genre of music as well as Centennial Park and the Bettye D. Smith Cultural Arts Center, Sanford Jazz in the Park was created. “Sometimes Sanford doesn’t sell Sanford well enough,” says Austin. “I want to help sell a part of the city that people haven’t seen or perhaps don’t know about,” he adds.
This year, the event is set for Saturday, September 28th from 2 to 7. Local musicians, including Macalus Quintet, Weldon Street, Honeypot, Jacqueline Jones, and this year’s closing act, Legendary JC’s, will grace the stage and bear their souls in the form of jazz. On top of these talented performers, there will be a selection of beer and other beverages available for purchase as well as many food trucks with a variety of cuisine to offer.
After the event, the artists switch gears and head to their sponsored venues to play another round of music downtown. Austin explains that “without these host sponsors — Throwbacks, West End Trading Co, 119 French, Celery City Craft and Sanford Brewing Company — this
would not be possible.” Additionally, the support from this year’s presenting sponsor, Heritage Park, helped cover other expenses, such as the permitting fees and stage rental. Just as important as the financial backing from local sponsors, Austin expressed his gratitude to the Ladies 327 Supper Club, which acts as the event coordinator, handles the correspondence and distribution of funds.
Thanks to the support from these aforementioned businesses, general admission is completely free to the public. Attendees can set up chairs or spread out a blanket in the park and enjoy the soothing tunes of these talented musicians. The VIP package, which costs $65, comes with quite a few perks, including access to the Bettye Smith Cultural Arts Center and a delicious spread of appetizers, entrées and desserts provided by the Smiling Bison, Colonial Room Restaurant and Texas Roadhouse Sanford. The Cultural Arts Center boasts its original 1920’s architectural design and provides patrons with private bathrooms and air-conditioned seating, not to mention a convenient escape from Florida’s heat. If you’d rather sit outside, VIP tent seating is also available along with two drink tickets to the bar, plus an event t-shirt and swag bag.
If you decide to splurge for VIP, you’re also supporting a charitable cause. The proceeds earned from the event will benefit ‘Cops for Christmas,’ an annual program organized by the Sanford Police Department that assists low-income families. Our city’s police officers take children shopping for gifts, toys and clothes to help make their holiday season a little brighter. Supporting ‘Cops for Christmas’ not only provides a
child with a much-deserved shopping spree, it gives law enforcement an opportunity to spend time with children from the community they serve. “Every $100 raised allows another child to participate,” Austin adds.
Whether you’re a local, new in town, or just passing through, join the fun on September 28th and experience some of the best things about Sanford: a picturesque park, groovy musicians and a loving community.
VIP tickets are now available online at www.ladies327.org/sanford-jazz-in-the-park
Be sure to follow the event’s Facebook page for more details: www.facebook.com/SanfordJazzInThePark
by JP Photography