Now in its 10th year, the Wednesday evening event will take place through the next seven weeks at Pioneer Park

by: KEVIN SPERL - Latin music artist Todd Haaby opened the 2014 season of Picnic in the Park Wednesday night.

A hot and somewhat smokey night in Prineville was the perfect backdrop for the hot and smoky Flamenco-style music of California-based Todd Haaby on Wednesday's opening night of the 2014 edition of Picnic in the Park.

Put on by the Crook County Foundation's Arts and Cultural Committee, the event is celebrating its 10th year by offering Wednesday night attendees a free hamburger and hot dog barbeque prior to the concert.

Event chair Lisa Morgan said the night's festivities were designed to give back to their sponsors and to a community that has supported the foundation over the years, enabling them to provide numerous scholarship opportunities.

“We want this music series to provide the community something in their own backyard,” she said. “Our foundation certainly benefits from the generosity of this community.”

It was that local support that made the free food possible with Ericksons donating the hamburgers and hot dogs, Grocery Outlet providing a $100 gift card, and Rays lending their grill.

The heat, and smoke from the nearby Mitchell fire, did nothing to deter Morgan from celebrating the new season.

“ Last year when Todd played here there were thunderstorms,” she laughed. “We can handle this for sure.”

Haaby is happy to be bringing his musical talents to Prineville for the second year in a row.

“We had a great time here last year and when they called us to come back we were happy to commit,” he said. “We are really happy that people here like our original, instrumental style.”

Coming to Central Oregon from performing in Napa, Calif., the group is heading back to Sacramento to continue their current tour. Haaby said that the groups most recent performance in the area was a sold-out concert at the Tower Theater in Bend.

Bob and Joy Spaulding were enjoying the balmy summer evening and having a picnic while waiting for the music to begin.

“This is our first time here for this series,” said Bob Spaulding. “We like Flamenco music and it seemed like a perfect night for a picnic with good friends, good food and good music.”

Recently locating to Prineville from Colorado and New Mexico, the Spauldings are no strangers to forest fires, professing to be veterans of the 2004 Hayman fire that consumed over 500,000 acres outside of Denver.

“We had gone to the movies in Denver,” said Jim Spaulding. “When we came out there was soot all over the car.”

Sitting next to them, Bob Dachtler commented on the only negative aspect he could think of about the event.

“We didn't know that they would be serving free food tonight,” he laughed, adding that if they had known they would not have brought their own. “Seriously though, this is a great venue for music.”

Morgan encourages residents to mark the next few Wednesday nights on their calendars.

“Providing seven weeks of free concerts is an achievement this community can be proud of,” she said. “Everyone in the community has played an important role in making Picnic in the Park an outstanding success!”

Upcoming concerts:

July 23: Harper and Midwest Kind

July 30: Beth Wood

August 6: The Diamonds (at the fairgrounds)

August 13: Kelly Thibodeaux and Etouffee

August 20: Hook Me Up Quartet

Aug. 27: Polecat

All concerts, except August 6, is held in Pioneer Park. Concerts begin at 6 p.m.

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