Stars set to return; November Ellis Park benefit to feature Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Youth Activities Team is bringing back two previous headliners this fall in its continuing effort to complete the development of Ellis Park.

YAT Co-Convenor Diana Mitchell said the group is organizing a concert, scheduled for Nov. 10, that will feature country music stars Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan. The two headlined shows at the Bourbon County Fairgrounds in 2009 and 2010, respectively. The 2010 show included opening act Craig Campbell and an appearance by Aldean.

The Fort Scott City Commission on Tuesday evening approved the use of Memorial Hall for the concert and the sale of beer at the event.

There will be limited seating. Mitchell said she is confident organizers will be able to fill the facility.

"It will be a sell-out," she said.

The YAT did not organize a concert last year, instead concentrating its efforts on winning the Take Charge Challenge, a friendly competition between 16 cities in Kansas divided into four regions to promote energy efficiency.

This year, the team plans to focus only on raising funds for the Ellis Park project, Mitchell said.

"Our goal this year is to raise money for the park," she said. "Last year, we did nothing for the park."

The 15-acre park is located at 12th and Shepherd streets in the east-central part of town near Fort Scott Middle School.

Fort Scott native and professional baseball player Adam LaRoche, the event's host, is also one of the key people behind the shows YAT has put together in recent years.

"Adam LaRoche is the reason we have Jason and Luke," Mitchell said, adding that LaRoche is good friends with the two artists.

"They love coming to Fort Scott and performing in Fort Scott," she said.

Mitchell said there are several benefits to holding the show in Memorial Hall. The venue will allow audience members to be able to get more "up close and personal" with the performers and provides a controlled environment so the weather won't be a concern. Mitchell said she anticipates seating at least 1,500 people.

Mitchell added that organizers scheduled the show for November because LaRoche is home from his baseball career.

The anticipated price of concert tickets is $50. Mitchell said tickets are slated to go on sale soon, but organizers have not released a date yet. There will be assigned seating and some select seating available for the show. Beer will be sold inside the venue.

When tickets do become available for sale, they will be made available locally first, Mitchell said.

"We have decided as a team to launch tickets locally," she said. "We're not going to outside media markets yet, in keeping with the LaRoches' wishes. We want to give Fort Scottians first chance to come to this concert. We will go outside if we don't sell out."

Following a recent $100,000 donation by local philanthropists Danny and Willa Ellis, and through various fundraisers since 2007, the YAT has a total of about $170,000 to spend on Ellis Park. The group is trying to make up some ground this year after losing money following the 2010 concert, Mitchell said. "We lost money; there were more expenses that year," she said, adding the weather was cold and rainy for that concert.

The 2009 event attracted about 7,500 people, but fewercame out for the 2010 show.