Happy 40th Summerfest!!

Kara Shea
Issue Date: 
August, 2019
Article Body: 

If you ever drive through the center of town on a Wednesday evening from early July to late August, you may hear the swell of a bass guitar, or take note of residents on lawn chairs gathered around the Gazebo. These are the tell-tale signs that “Summerfest” has started again.
Summerfest, a free concert series put on during the summer months (as the name suggests), started “in 1980 when a group of civic-minded local residents saw how free outdoor shows were succeeding in Boston, and thought they would be equally successful in Norwood” noted Bob Donnelly, a Norwood Arts Council volunteer.
The Arts Council is a non-profit organization specifically dedicated to producing the Summerfest shows. At its inception, the group sponsored a winter show in 1982, as well as a haunted house at the Day House partnering with the Norwood Historical Society. Now, 40 years later, their main focus is Summerfest.
According to Donnelly, the Council used to have about 15 dedicated volunteers, but is now run with about 5 or 6, who has been with the group since 1982 serving as the Treasurer and President throughout the years.
The committee members that help run the show are as follows: Bob Donnelly, Joan Haustin, Barbara Hooper, Marie McHugh, Marcia Morin, and Brian Regan. Barbara Hooper and Marie McHugh book the bands, do the program, raise funds, and work with the Town Hall on logistics.
Summerfest is a multi-organizational spectacle as support comes in the form of the Town of Norwood, the Chamber of Commerce, the Elks, the Women’s Community Committee, the Norfolk County Development and the Tourist Council.
“We have produced over 400 shows over the years with a great rolodex of bands! Generally, we book bands that have played at Summerfest over the past 5-10 years, but agents of bands we feature will also contact us to see if they can book other bands they represent.”
The bands used to play on the Town Hall lawn, and Nahatan Street would be blocked off for seating. Now, citizens have come to enjoy the concerts on the Common with the bands set up in the Gazebo.
While there are some shows that draw nearly 1,000 people, there have been some touch-and-go moments throughout the years. Donnelly recounts a time that a steel band got lost coming to Norwood from Jamaica Plain.
“They ended up somewhere on the North Shore,” Donnelly said. “We sent some folks out to find them and most everyone stayed on the Common as we played DJ music from Chuck Burgess. It was around 9 p.m. that they finally appeared! That group set up their drums in record time and played an awesome set until 11 p.m. that night!”
The Summerfest performances range from Bluegrass, to country, to rock, and everywhere in between.
On June 4, 1980, the first band to play for Norwood was called Joe Val and the New England Bluegrass Boys.
This year, the schedule includes acts called: “Back in Time, a 4-piece Oldies band specializing in songs from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. South Bound Train, a seven-piece group covering country hits both old and new; and Bobby Carlson & Stone River that plays what’s happening today and a little of yesterday.”
As nearly four decades since Summerfest’s started, it has become a fundamental part of the town’s history by connecting generations together through music. Summerfest has given Norwood residents a setting to engage with one another. Here’s hoping for another successful 40 years of music.
Below is the Summerfest August schedule. Performances are 7-9 p.m., on the Town Gazebo. Lawn chairs and blankets are recommended.
August 7 Rick Barron
& the Quavers
August 14 Round House
August 21 Bobby Carlson
& Stone River
August 28 Brass Kickin