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Concert series wraps up with near-record crowd

The 20th season of Down by the Riverside ended Sunday with one of the largest crowds in the history of the popular concert series.

An estimated 21,000 people attended Sunday's concert by Collective Soul, nearly equaling the all-time largest crowd of an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 for a concert by Kansas in 2009.

"It's been a great 20th anniversary season," said Steven Schmidt, general manager of Riverside Concerts, the arm of Rochester city government that promotes the concerts.

Overall attendance at the seven-concert season was estimated at 58,000, which compares favorably with recent seasons.

"It was unfortunate that it was so hot and humid early," Schmidt said. "I think the weather hurt our attendance numbers."


Because there is no admission charge for the concerts, which are held at Mayo Park, crowd estimates are done by volunteers who stand at the main entrances and count people entering the park.

Down by the Riverside started in 1992 with three concerts. As the series has grown it has attracted major acts and large crowds.

The idea this year, Schmidt said, was to present music reflecting various decades. The season opened with Paul Revere & the Raiders from the 1960s, and included Uriah Heep from the 1970s, Dokken from the 1980s and Collective Soul from the 1990s. Country newcomer Frankie Ballard, bluesman Corey Stevens and the Rochester Concert Band and Choir rounded out the season.

"We're already starting to book the 21st season," Schmidt said.

He said Riverside Concerts received some complaints that the 2011 season, which opened July 10, wasn't announced until June 16. "I did receive phone calls and e-mails saying, 'You're making it difficult to plan our family vacation,'" Schmidt said.

The late announcement was because of a tie-in with the Thursdays on First & Third downtown street fair. "This anniversary year, I thought it was important to do that," Schmidt said. "We'll be examining that."

On the other hand, he said, "we can't announce the season until we get signed contracts in our files. Some years, that takes a long time, with the level of artists we're signing."

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