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Ridgefield Concert Series Celebrates 10th Year

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. — Children and adults gathered in Ridgefield's Ballard Park during the heat wave Thursday to enjoy a free outdoor performance by Bill Evans Soulgrass.

Soulgrass is one of 23 bands scheduled to play every Tuesday and Thursday this summer in a series presented by Concerts Happening in Ridgefield Parks, or CHIRP, marking the organization's 10th anniversary season. CHIRP is dedicated to presenting musicians who wouldn't normally be heard or don't have another venue at which to play, producer Barbara Manners said.

“After 9/11, the community needed to come together, and I thought there was no better way to do that than free concerts in the park,” she said.

The concerts are supported completely by donations, and Manners said that on a normal Tuesday, the park is filled with more than 2,000 guests.

Each band must have a national reputation, sound great live and be family friendly before they're booked, Manners said.

“I don't care about the politics, but I do care about the language,” she said.

Ridgefield resident Chris Pike said he goes to every show he can attend. “It's something to do, it's free, all of the above,” he said. “I've seen Bill Evans before and they're good.”

Ridgefield park ranger Joe Schneider said he's been keeping the concerts peaceful and quiet since the series started in 2002.

“I'm the first one in and the last to leave,” he said.

Concertgoers come from South Salem and Carmel, N.Y., and even New York City to enjoy the free entertainment, Manners said.

“The concerts helped to make Ridgefield a destination," she said.

For information on the concert series, go to www.chirpct.org.

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