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Arts Commission launching summer concert series

COTTAGE GROVE — The Cottage Grove Art Commission's latest venture aims to make music more accessible.

The Tunes into Twilight summer music series has been knocking around on arts commission agendas for over a year, but over the winter Barb Forthun took up the reins to make it happen.

A retired music educator, Forthun said she "saw a gap between arts and bringing people to it."

Once a choral director, Forthun said she's "taking what I know from doing a performance and transferring it to an outdoor space."

The South Washington County Community Band will kick off the first-ever Tunes into Twilight, June 21 at the City Hall amphitheater.

Since the inaugural event also lands on international Make Music Day, they will also offer Blues Harmonica for Kids at 6 p.m. with commission member Joe Filipovich for up to 25 kids to learn how to play the harmonica.

The commission set dates for the third Thursday of every month at 7:30 p.m., planning three for this summer.

While in its infancy this year, the series will take note of what works, what doesn't and what the community wants.

Each event will be in a different park space this year, but Forthun said if one works especially well or feedback indicates one particular park's popularity, they may move all future dates there in 2019.

"We haven't had anything like this," she said.

There will be a rain location planned.

The Nick Dinius Band in Hearthside Park has the gig for the July 19 date.

The third concert, Aug. 16, is still up for grabs.

Forthun said the commission is partnering with the My Future Cottage Grove committee Celebrating Diversity to put on a showcase of different performers in Peter Thompson Park.

For at least the first event, MikMart and other possible food vendors will be on hand to provide treats. Commissioners hope to bring food carts back for future performances.

Forthun said each performance will likely last a half hour to an hour.