The leaves on the birch trees glistened in the late evening sun and birds floated around the treetops.
Hundreds - yes hundreds - of audience members tapped their toes and clapped their hands as they sat on blankets and lawn chairs positioned on the soft green grass near the outdoor stage.
That was Music in the Park Wednesday in beautiful Curtis, a sometimes overlooked gem of a small town in the middle of the Upper Peninsula.
Attending outdoor music events is one of my favorite summer activities and in recent years, I've enjoyed these performances in a variety of U.P. towns including Ishpeming, Gladstone, L'Anse and Marquette.
But there is something super special about the Music in the Park experience in Curtis.
What makes this particular concert event outstanding?
Actually, it's a number of things, setting being one. The Erickson Center for the Arts hosts this musical series around a bandstand on its front lawn. Talk about picture postcard perfect: This venue is glorious. The musicians up on the bandstand can see the assembled throng of enthusiasts, but they also have in sight the sparkling waters of South Manistique Lake. It's breathtakingly gorgeous.
The center itself is a lovely building, lovingly cared for. Flowers are planted alongside the structure, adding eye-pleasing bursts of color.
And currently the Peaceful People exhibit is up alongside the building, drawing the curious and creating unique photo possibilities. As my colleague Abbey Hauswirth wrote in a recent story about the exhibit (www.miningjournal.net/page/content.detail/id/588753/Peaceful-People.html?nav=5141), the "people" have drawn even more visitors to the center in recent weeks.
The Peaceful People will be on display until Labor Day and if you get the chance, I recommend you check them out.
Another reason Music in the Park in Curtis was outstanding was the portable dance floor set up to the side of the bandshell. People of all ages took advantage of this level surface to get their groove on during the show. As dancing can sometimes be a daunting prospect on uneven ground, the dance floor is a clever way to ratchet up the level of fun.
Adding to the evening's ambiance was the general friendliness of the attendees, both Curtis residents and tourists. The people I spoke with were a mix from both categories, but had in common one thing: Huge smiles.
A reason for the joy was the quality of music being presented that evening. My favorite band, The Hozz, was responsible for that, offering original music and cover tunes that had the crowd enraptured for two hours on this windy but sunny evening. It was the perfect way to spend a summer evening.
To learn more about the Music in the Park series in Curtis - which continues for two more weeks this year with other excellent bands, visit ericksoncenter.org.
And if you can't get to Curtis, please check out an outdoor musical event near you. Live local music deserves support, so please take the time to enjoy some of the amazing talent that populates the U.P.
Summer's flying by, so grab some of its special fun while you are able.
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.