PrairieFest is just around the corner.

America's Heartbeat

Photo by JAMIE GREEN

America’s Heartbeat, an outdoor concert, will begin at 7 p.m. June 3 in Wilson Park. Gates open at 5 p.m.

No coolers are allowed in the fenced area of the park at those times because there will be a cash bar.

In the area to be fenced off, no person younger than 21 will have access to alcohol.

“There’s never been a problem with this event,” City Manager Nick Hernandez said at a recent City Commission meeting.

In addition to performances by local and regional talent, this year’s concert also will feature a performance by local composer Vic Olmstead.

Olmstead had stayed behind the curtain for the last three years, writing the script for the show.

This year, though, he will step onto the stage for the first time and perform his own material.

Olmstead is an accomplished writer, musician and singer.

“We are excited to have him as our leading man in 2016,” states a recent press release from the Arkansas City Area Arts Council.


Concert lineup

There will be 11 acts this year, including:

  • Ashley Knepper performs Eva Cassidy — Knepper will depict music from this iconic ’70s songstress, who found fame after her death.
    Song list: “People Get Ready,” “You’re Welcome to the Club” and “To the River.”
  • Donnie Huffman performs Johnnie Rivers — Huffman is back after performing as Buddy Holly in 2014 and Neil Diamond in 2015.
    Song list:Baby I Need Your Loving,” “Memphis” and “Track of My Tears.”
  • Kelly Dillner performs Juice Newton — Dillner performed in 2014 as Stevie Nicks.
    Song list: “Heartache,” “Angels of the Morning” and “Break It to Me Gently.”
  • Jan and Teressa Hatfield perform Sonny and Cher — Hatfield, a former director for Ark City Arts, started the event with Woodstock Revisited in 2011. Both Jan and Teressa are longtime supporters of the arts.
    Song list: “The Beat Goes On,” “Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves” and “I Got You Babe.”
  • Clayton Crawford performs Free — Last year, the axe-man brought down the house with songs by Steppenwolf. This year, he will perform songs by British rockers Free.
    Song list: “All Right Now,” “Fire and Water” and “The Hunter.”
  • Tim Durham performs the Doobie Brothers — In addition to performing as the lead Doobie Brother, Durham is the musical director of the stage band and vocalists.
    Song list: “Listen to the Music,” “Black Water” and “Jesus Is Just Alright.”
  • Jennifer Bennett performs Blondie — An amazing talent, Bennett was born and raised in Ark City, but she has made her mark worldwide.
    Song list: “Call Me,” “Heart of Glass” and “One Way or Another.”
  • Charla Myrick performs Linda Ronstadt — Myrick definitely does Linda Ronstadt justice, so don’t miss this portrayal.
    Song list: “Poor Poor Pitiful Me,” “Blue Bayou” and “Back in the U.S.”
  • Matt Miers performs Bruce Springsteen — This is Miers’ fifth year to rock the stage, this time as “The Boss.”
    Song list: “Dancing in the Dark,” “Born to Run” and “Born in the USA.”
  • Jessica Coldwell performs Joan Jett — Coldwell has a big, booming voice and is the concert’s youngest talent.
    Song list: “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” “I Hate Myself for Loving You” and “Bad Reputation.”
  • Jan Hatfield performs Grand Funk Railroad — Hatfield is a hard-working musician and longtime local favorite.
    Song list: “Footstompin’ Music,” “I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home)” and “We’re an American Band.”

Other activities

During the concert, there will be food trucks in the park as well, starting at 5 p.m.

Additionally, America’s Heartbeat has been expanded this year to encompass much more than a concert in the park.

The overall event is billed as starting at 7:30 p.m. June 2 with the first concert of the Arkansas City Community Band’s 145th season, also under the Wilson Park rotunda. Admission is free.

June 3’s festivities will begin at 11 a.m. with a free children’s music concert at the Wilson Park gazebo.

Karen Craig and Elyssa Day will perform. As a bonus, W. James Jones, principal clarinetist of the Delano Chamber Orchestra and emeritus of the Wichita Symphony, also is expected to perform.

That same day, from noon to 3 p.m., there will be a community art-making project at the gazebo.

Participants will be encouraged to create a painting expressing their hopes and dreams for the future.

All of the pieces created will be on display, attached to a large dream catcher, and will remain on display until after the night’s festivities.

Tickets are available downtown at Ark City Arts, the Arkansas City Area Chamber of Commerce, 1025 The River and Graves Drug. Adult tickets are $8 and those younger than 18 are $5.

America’s Heartbeat is sponsored by 1025 The River, Ark City Clinic, Ark Valley Distributing, the City of Arkansas City, Community National Bank and Trust, CornerBank, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, Elite Advertising, Kester Ink, Lyman Customs, Native Lights Casino, RCB Bank, The Stock Exchange Bank, Trust Company of Kansas, and Union State Bank.