Friday, April 7, 2017

Party time

Less than 24 hours from now, music is going to fill the air in Lexington.

And there's going to be about 1,000 people on hand — maybe more — to listen to six acts perform over 11 hours at the brand-new Breeden Insurance Amphitheater, located between 3rd Avenue and 4th Avenue just south of Main Street.

Workers put the final touches on the Breeden Amphitheater Friday.
 The scheduled performers include the nationally known Gin Blossoms, and Edwin McCain, the Lilly Brothers, On The Border (an Eagles tribute band), The Steppin' Stones and Holy Ghost Tent Revival.

The place is going to be rockin'.

And maybe, in part, you can thank city manager Alan Carson for that.

The primary purpose of the event, said Carson, is to draw attention to Lexington, and just as significantly, to the potential of the Depot District, which seeks a long-range plan for the development of the old Lexington Brands Furniture property, including an Amtrak stop.

The city purchased the property for just over $1 million back in 2006. Back then, many doubters wondered why.

But the vision of a decade ago is slowly coming into focus. A popular farmers' market took hold in the nearby freight depot several years ago, more or less getting people used to the idea of seeing something besides abandoned buildings where a thriving industry once stood.

Bull City Ciderworks arrived with some fanfare in 2015, rented a building for its brewery, and now recently bought the property, thus putting it on the city's tax rolls.

And now the amphitheater, to which Mark and Jill Breeden of Breeden Insurance gifted $200,000 toward its construction. The amphitheater, of course, could likely be a draw for future events.

Suddenly, that million-dollar purchase of some forlorn old buildings might just be the steal of the century.

As of Friday morning, Carson said there have been more than 800 tickets pre-sold, with more than 65 percent of those sales coming from outside of Lexington. No, wait. Outside of Davidson County. No, wait. Outside of the Piedmont.

"It's amazing," said Carson. "We're getting people from all over, including places from as far away as California and Minnesota. I don't know if they're family members of the bands, or what. But it's good."

Carson said there's no way the event will make money this year. Most inaugural events hardly ever do. But the primary benefit that will come — is coming — is an outsider learning a little bit more about Lexington.

"Maybe a developer or an investor will come to the concerts, look around, see what Lexington has to offer, see where we're going, and maybe looks into buying property here," said Carson. "Who knows? But it's exciting to think about."

Depending on how things go tomorrow — and it looks promising, with a sunny day and temperatures expected in the mid-60s — the music fest could be an annual event.

So far, it seems to be hitting the right notes.

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