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Community band moves to new concert location

BEMIDJI - After more than a decade at Baker Park, the Bemidji Community Band will change concert locations this summer.

The band will play its first concert of the season at 7 p.m. June 17 on the south side lawn of Bangsberg Fine Arts Complex on the campus of Bemidji State University.

The band was asked by Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, which owns Baker Park, to assume liability for the concert events, Chief Operating Officer Joy Johnson said.

"We wanted them to assume responsibility and liability," Johnson said. "It's pretty standard for any organization to do if an outside party is using their property, especially for such a large crowd."

As part of assuming liability, the band would have had to purchase liability insurance, which Glenn Seibel, Bemidji Community Band board president, said would have cost the band $2,000.

"That's almost our entire budget for the summer," Seibel said. "At our last board meeting, I announced we needed to find an alternate space."

The band chose the spot by Bangsberg because there are select places they can play, Seibel said.

"We've tried Library and waterfront parks in the past, and there was too much noise there," Seibel said. "We looked for shade, grass, convenience for the people attending and not a lot of external distractions for our new spot."

While the band had been playing at Baker Park for 10 years, Johnson said top administration at Sanford did not realize this.

"We weren't aware they were doing this there," Johnson said. "I found out about a month ago that they had been playing there for many years."

She said that while Sanford didn't want to be at risk for being liable, the company did want to create an opportunity for the band to continue to play there.

"I drafted a written agreement and sent it to the board president," Johnson said. "We also offered to help defray the costs of any liability insurance they would have purchased, but we never heard back."

Seibel said they'll know Sunday if the move will affect concert attendance.

"I'm hoping not," Seibel said. "It is a big concern. We could have gone inside Bangsberg, but whenever we've had to go inside in the past, we've always lost attendance. Hopefully everyone follows us, and maybe we'll gain some new audience members. It's only two blocks away (from the old spot)."