Merced's Outdoor Amphitheatre at Applegate Park to get facelift

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Merced Outdoor Amphitheatre at Applegate Park has seen better days, but it will soon shine again as the site of a free concert series coming to the city this summer.

Performances will happen on ten consecutive Friday nights starting in August.

"This is a great place to hang out. I know a lot of the community not just from Merced but the entire county likes to come out and watch events like that, and I'll be coming out myself too," said Merced resident Damian Ramirez.

This new opportunity is possible thanks to a collaboration between the City and UC Merced.

Executive Director of the Arts, Kim Garner, wrote a proposal for funding through the Levitt Foundation. The university then helped rally the community to cast enough online votes to secure one of 20 grants worth $25,000.

"We could not believe the number of people who voted. It was like a wildfire. It was great! It went on social media, crazy! So at the end of it, out of 33 cities, we ended up coming in 8th place," said Garner.

Winners were announced last week, and polling will begin in the New Year to find out which types of bands residents would like to see.

"We'll be doing things online. We'll also be doing them physically at community centers, the Senior Center, the Boys and Girls Club. We'll be really reaching out to make sure everybody's voice is heard," said Garner.

Before the concert series begins, a part of the park will be getting a facelift thanks to another $25,000, which was donated by local residents Michael and Monika Modest.

Monika is the artist behind some prominent pieces around town, and she plans to create a new mural for the park to go along with the renovations.

"What you should expect to see at the Merced Open Air Theatre is just a refreshed renovated space where the acoustics work, the setting is nice, and it's just a real attractive gathering place for people to come and enjoy the park," says Merced Mayor Mike Murphy.

Murphy says the concert series will be a great addition to the park, which has been the focus of recent revitalization efforts. He's also excited that the university will be bussing in students to enjoy the music alongside local families.

"This is another way to strengthen our bonds with the UC Merced campus and to have them spearhead this effort and to also invite and bring their students to come to Applegate Park, becomes even more of a gathering place to strengthen those ties between the campus and community," Murphy says.
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