Warner Robins Independence Concert possible for 2014

Don't count the Warner Robins Independence Concert out just yet.

The major parties involved want to see it continue. It's just a matter of how to make that happen.

City council talked about one possibility Tuesday night.

The 31st annual Warner Robins Independence Celebration last summer was a wash, not once, but twice.

Storms forced organizers to tell concert goers to pack up and leave McConnell-Talbert Stadium July 2, and again on July 7.

With no rain insurance, the city lost $30,000. Private concert sponsors were out at least $55,000.

Between the two canceled concerts and rescheduling the fireworks in August, it cost the city $52,253, according to Mayor Randy Toms.

Toms was not the mayor then, but said it was a big expense.

Last year was the first year the city and a local civic group, The Warner Robins Civitan Club, hosted the concert, without the support of the Air Force Reserve Command. They pulled funding because of budget cuts.

Toms said, "I don't want to see us end the Independence Concert." In fact, he said he would like to make it bigger in the future, than it has been in years past.

The owners of the Blue Duck event company, Benny Brantley and Darrell Tripp, brought forth a plan to council.

They want to organize this summer's concert for less than $100,000.

Brantley said this is not the first time they approached the city about putting on the event. They talked with former mayor Chuck Shaheen about it last year, but said the city moved forward without their help.

Brantley said, "We can offer bigger bands for a cheaper price, because of our connections in Nashville."

They say they can put up the stage and set up the sound system for less money than last year.

Brantley says his business won't profit from the venture.

To cover costs, they need money from the city, permission from the Houston County Board of Education to use the stadium and private community sponsors.

Their proposal includes rain insurance.

Brantley said, "We still have questions that need to be answered."

He said they need the city's approval in the next two weeks, or they can't promise the price.

Toms said that may be moving too fast. He said, "I'm not going to make any decision on that much money and that much cooperation involved on a snap decision on a knee-jerk reaction."

Houston County Superintendent Robin Hines said Wednesday morning, that he had not heard about Blue Duck's proposal for the concert. He said he supports the concert continuing and providing the venue, if the city backs the event.

The Blue Duck owners proposal included the traditional fireworks and a performance by Southern rock band, Blackberry Smoke.

As in years past, the event would be free to the public and honor veterans and the military.

Brantley and Tripp said they would try to bring back some members of the Band of the Air Force Reserve to play at the concert.

Members of the band left Robins and were dispersed to bases throughout the country last year, as a result of Department of Defense budget cuts.


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