Once you've played your umpteenth hole of miniature golf, gotten waterlogged at the neighborhood pool and seen every summer blockbuster out there, how about injecting some culture into your summer nights? For the past 44 years, Dogwood Dell has provided family entertainment to nearly 150,000 Richmonders a year. The Dell's 2000 summer season includes performances by some of the region's top musical acts, dance programs, theatrical productions and children's entertainment. And the best part: It's all free.
"Because it's free, it gives people the opportunity to experience new things," says Mary Boelt, program coordinator and production manager for Dogwood Dell, which is owned by the city of Richmond. "If you have to pay for something you might not try it. It keeps people open to the experience."
Favorite acts such as the Kings of Swing, Plunky and Oneness, the Concert Ballet of Virginia and the Richmond Pops Band are back again this year. And, as always, the Richmond Concert Band performs July 4, when as many as 20,000 Richmonders have been know to pack the Dell for flag waving and fireworks.
"We have focused on local performers because we have so many local talented people," Boelt says. " Part of our focus is to showcase what is right next door."
The outdoor amphitheater, built with cobblestones taken from old city streets, does present some performance and audience challenges sudden storms, heat, humidity and insects are all part of the Dell experience. So be sure to pack some sunscreen with your picnic, but leave your pets and alcoholic beverages at home.
"I can't think of anything better to do on a summer night," says Boelt. " How many other places can you see the variety of things you can see at the Dell? It is one of those very special places."
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