New event center deserves support

Thursday, July 30, 2009

On Saturday night, I attended Ricochet's music concert at Gizmo's Event Center in Wheaton. Although I'm not a huge country music fan, I thoroughly enjoyed this show. Known as "the hardest working group in country music," Ricochet incorporated a trumpet, trombone, saxophone and drum line in portions of their heart-pumping concert. The band also offered an "American Idol" style performance during the show, which allowed each of the five band members to perform a song of their choice. This portion of the concert featured songs by Ray Charles, AC/DC and other popular musicians and bands.

Although Ricochet put on one of the best concerts that I have ever watched, the show was attended by few Barry Countians, which was very disappointing. Some local residents might say that the current economy makes it difficult to afford a $12 or $15 concert ticket, but that cost is very low when compared to the cost of driving to Springfield, Joplin or St. Louis for concerts that often cost $30 or more per ticket.

Event center owners Dale and Janice McCracken constructed the event center in hopes of bringing big shows to the Barry County community. The facility is maintained by professional employees who are available from the time you drive through the front gate and park your vehicle until the show is over. The center does not sell alcoholic beverages and offers a very family-friendly environment for audiences of all ages.

In addition to an impressive grandstand that can seat up to 1,675 people, the event center features a large rodeo arena with portable chutes, a concession area with a full kitchen, a large banquet hall and a variety of pavilions and barns for agriculture events and fairs.

Even though the event center offers Barry Countians wonderful opportunities to participate in exciting events, the community must remember that without local support these opportunities could disappear. It saddens me to think that, due to the low turnout for the Ricochet concert, the McCrackens could decide not to invite another award-winning band to perform at the facility.

Many local business owners, including the McCrackens, invested a large amount of money to construct Gizmo's Event Center. Other businesses have shown their support for the venue by serving as event sponsors. These business owners had a dream and the drive to offer something great in our community. Now it is our turn to show support.

Those of you who didn't visit Wheaton for the Ricochet concert missed a great event that featured wonderful music and a fantastic show, but there are plenty of other upcoming entertainment opportunities to look forward to. In August, Gizmo's Event Center will host the Outlaw Truck and Tractor Pull, which will feature dozens of competitors. Other upcoming events include the Big God Across the Four States Festival, a bluegrass festival and the Kelly Miller Circus. Plan now to attend one of these shows and put valuable dollars back in our economy by supporting this local entertainment venue.

Lindsay Reed