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Wilson's Creek Kicks Off 'Arts in the Park' Concerts

Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield has announced its “Arts in the Park” schedule for 2010. That’s a series of musical performances throughout the Spring and early Summer that take place on or near the historic battlefield. KSMU’s Jennifer Moore has details.

It was 149 years ago this summer that Union troops staged a surprise attack on Confederate soldiers stationed at Wilson’s Creek. Now, visitors are invited to come back to the historic cornfields and legendary hills for a concert series.

Ted Hillmer is the superintendent of Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield.

“Well, our first one, of course, is this Saturday, May 8th. The first one is the Missouri State University Community Band,” Hilmer said. The MSU Community Band performs traditional band music, he said, and they are all volunteers.

Saturday’s event begins at 7:00 p.m., and will take place on the lawn in front of the park’s Visitor Center.

Two weeks later, on May 22, at 6:00 p.m., two bluegrass bands will perform at the park: The Missouri Boatride Bluegrass Band is from Branson, and its mandolin player appeared on the Andy Griffith Show. The other group performing that evening will be Crazy Mule, a band of five musicians who incorporate Ozarks Mountain humor and folklore into their act.

On May 29th, at 7:00 p.m., a family band called “The Back Porch Players” will perform a variety of songs dating back to the Civil War Era.

"They explain about the history of the song they perform, and then they actually sing it. So it gives you a little bit of education, plus you get to hear the music also," Hillmer said.

The evening of June 5th, at 7:00 p.m., the group High Strung will roll out its bluegrass skills.

And the final event will be the Ray House Jamboree—that’s on Saturday, June 12, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It features several groups who play on the front porch of the historic Ray House.

Hilmer said this Civil War house was significant to both the Blue and the Gray.

"There was only one structure left standing intact after the battle, only because it was a hospital. And that remained standing--it remained a hospital after the battle, and took care of the wounded, [both] North and South. And because of that, it was not burnt. And it's still standing today," Hillmer said.

All concerts are free and open to the public, except the June 12th program at the Ray House: for that one, regular park admission will apply since it’s inside the park borders.

Regular admission is $5.00 per person, or $10.00 per carload.

Those attending the “Arts in the Park” concerts are asked to bring lawn chairs or blankets. Hillmer said bug spray wouldn’t be a bad idea, either.

For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.