Community shows support at Ozarks Amphitheater opening despite unpredictable weather

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After two years of preparation, the Ozarks Amphitheater’s grand opening event June 18 may have fell a bit short of the new ownership’s expectations due to heavy rain and inclement weather throughout last week. Yet, the event itself turned out dry after a long day of rain subsided in the early part of the afternoon.

As a result, a few hundred people showed up to the inaugural event, which featured blues vocalist Sena Ehrhardt, tastings from the Ozark Distillery and local musician Shawn Campanini.

“It’s a little bit lighter than what I would have liked to have seen, but we got a lot of phone calls today from people concerned about the weather,” Mary Kay von Brendel of the Ozark Amphitheatre said at the event. “We’ve got the house set right now for about 2,500 or 5,000. I would have liked to have seen at least half that. One thing about the Ozarks Amphitheatre: we are a rain or shine venue.”

Despite the lower-than-anticipated audience, people took part in the festivities enthusiastically. They cheered after each song in Ehrhardt’s set, talked with friends and neighbors, and generally created an atmosphere that impressed attendee and Camdenton City Administrator Jeff Hancock.

“It shows by the number of people here that anticipated rain that the community really supports these people, supports this event and if you look around everyone’s having a great time,” he said.

While the Ozarks Amphitheater has had other ownership in the past, it has not been a successful venue. Hancock believes that a few factors, namely greater support by the county government and the community at large, will make the amphitheater a lasting institution at the Lake of the Ozarks. Even something as simple as a well-placed road could make all the difference between success and failure.

“When this was open before, we didn’t have the expressway, Highway 5 and 7, so it’s just natural from a standpoint of the overpass and parking and that sort of thing,” Hancock said. “We’re excited about it from a standpoint of obviously the sales tax and the economic development, but [the ownership] are just tremendous people. They’ve got a solid background in tourism.”

Von Brendel also noted the soft opening gave them a chance to evaluate their staff before the summer season kicks into high gear in early July with a performance by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils.

“The response for the Ozark Mountain Daredevils … has been huge,” she said. “The crowd that we have right now is good for us because it kind of puts all of our employees through the paces, so they know what to expect. We needed a night like this.”

The 2015 Ozarks Amphitheater has scheduled a slew of concerts and events through early fall, including the following:

• Friday, July 3 – Ozark Mountain Daredevils with special guests Cindy Woolf and Mark Bilyeu

• Sunday, July 5 – The Kentucky HeadHunters with special guests Confederate Railroad and Carolyn Wonderland

• Saturday, July 11 – Think Floyd USA (Pink Floyd tribute band)

• Friday, July 17 – The Guess Who with special guest Mark Andrew

• Saturday, July 18 – The Music of ABBA with special guest Arrival from Sweden (ABBA tribute band)

• Saturday, Aug. 1 – Tracy Lawrence

• Friday, Aug. 7 – Grateful Dead Experience: The Schwag

• Friday, Aug. 21 – Dokken, Warrant and FireHouse

• Saturday, Aug. 22 – Get the Led Out – The American Led Zeppelin

• Saturday, Aug. 29 – Molly Hatchet with special guests Bucky Covington and Old Southern Moonshine Revival

For more information, call 573-346-0000 or visit OzarksAmphitheater.com.

Community shows support at Ozarks Amphitheater opening despite unpredictable weather
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