Next week’s music festival as downtown events continue to grow | Local
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As the disaster recedes, downtown Columbia is seeing increasing levels of outdoor events on public property.
The increase in events is welcomed by those promoting the city as a destination, but there have been complaints about the rallies and the noise that comes with them.
Megan McConachie, spokeswoman for the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), said tourism events, defined as those that attract visitors to the city, are back to pre-2020 levels.
“Potential events that can attract people to our community are back at or, in some cases, above 2019 levels,” McConachie said.
Exact numbers are hard to track, McConachie said, because events held throughout the year vary widely. The office aims to market Columbia as a destination, with one focus being tourism-related events held on public property, other than parks. Not all events held downtown go through the CVB.
“There is no way to measure the totality of all events,” McConachie said. “There are hundreds every year throughout the city.”
MyHouse, a downtown nightclub and sports bar, has been hosting outdoor concerts near the intersection of Sixth and Locust streets. These incidents have led to criticism.
Gary Kremer, director of the Missouri State Historical Society (SHSMO), presented his complaints about the MyHouse events to the City Council on September 6. Kremer said that barriers prevented access to the SHSMO parking lot in late August, prompting the historical society to unexpectedly closed on August 20. He also expressed concern about the port-a-potties near the SHSMO parking lot.
Beth Pike, director of communications for SHSMO, told the Missourian that there were issues with noise levels during the concert’s preparations as well.
Dan Rader, owner of MyHouse, disputed Kremer’s claims at the council meeting, but said he is making changes to theater operations in response to complaints. MyHouse is hosting a concert this Saturday from two musical friends. Famous for the “big bootie” mix, the two men make mashups of popular music, especially EDM (Electronic Dance Music).
Rader said Saturday’s event is scheduled for 3,000 concertgoers and one block. To avoid blocking SHSMO’s parking lot, Rader said he reduced the exhibit area and capacity to 50% of what the Council approved. The volume will also be lowered during the opening acts, the bass will be reduced throughout the concert and noise cancellation technology will be used to control the bass, he said.
Plus, the live opening act won’t start until 8 p.m., when Rader said most of the neighborhood restaurants are closing.
“We just want to show the community that even if we don’t agree with their complaints, we take them seriously and we’ll try to do what we can to make them happy,” Rader said.
Pike said the size of the concert was not an issue. While the historical society’s concerns are known to the city, Pike added that SHSMO is hopeful for a good relationship with Rader moving forward.
“We are very hopeful that Rader will understand our issues and make sure our parking lots are not blocked, so our customers can come to us,” Pike said. “We hope to be good neighbors and we want to see the event succeed.”
At least one nearby business owner, who did not want to be quoted, said the road closures are bad for business. But several restaurant owners in the area said they have no problem with the concerts.
Matt Jenne, owner of Addison’s, a restaurant on Cherry Street around the corner from MyHouse, said his business was not adversely affected. Addison’s actually sees fewer customers at night during MyHouse concerts, he added.
“Incorporating downtown culture is good as long as it’s done responsibly,” Jenne said.
This weekend’s concert will be the fourth in MyHouse’s outdoor concert series that began this summer, when it returned after a two-year hiatus.
Although that disaster caused the early closure, Rader took the opportunity to build MyHouse into more than just a nightclub. The indoor portion of the site is scheduled to open in October. But Rader said year-round concerts — both indoors and outdoors — are in his long-term plans.
“The hope is that MyHouse will be a concert venue for the entire community,” Rader said. “We’ll do country shows, we’ll do rock shows, do bluegrass and blues, all kinds of things.”
Rader, the MyHouse concert is a step to keep Columbia students after they graduate. He said that the quality levels of books in MyHouse are equal to those seen in big cities – Steve Aoki, DJ with more than 16 million Spotify listeners per month, held in MyHouse on September 9.
“I was born and raised in Columbia,” Rader said. “I remember Summerfest and Roots N Blues (Festival) having growing pains and dealing with basically the same issues we dealt with. It’s kind of live and learn.”
Overall, McConachie said, any event that attracts visitors to Columbia can have a significant economic impact on the city.
“It means an extra influx of people on the dates of those events, but it has a positive impact economically on the small businesses around the places where those events are held,” McConachie said.
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