Summer Arts Festival to return bigger than ever: New schedule released

The past two years have limited one of Springfield’s most popular summer attractions to just four weeks total. The Springfield Arts Council is prepared to make up for it this summer.

To compensate for the COVID-19 pandemic wiping out the entire 2020 season and holding 2021 to just four weeks, the Summer Arts Festival has been scheduled for seven weeks when it returns to Veterans Park in June.

Be prepared for 31 shows over 33 nights featuring new and returning favorite tributes, live theater productions, kids’ activities, local performers and a range of other choices, June 9 through July 23.

The 2020 season was booked and ready to go when the statewide mandate against large gatherings canceled it. Last year’s season was assembled on the run as acts were harder to book, but attendees were enthused to have it back and followed safety protocols, which encouraged Tim Rowe, SAC executive director, who said a lot of acts are now ready to get back out in full force, which is why there is so much more to offer.

“Me, my staff and our board saw how much the public missed the festival in 2020 and how happy they were even for a shorter festival in 2021 and we wanted to pull out all the stops for 2022. We have a wide variety of diverse acts for everyone,” he said.

Among the festival’s most popular attractions are the various tribute acts. This year will see 10, starting the festival off strong with The McCartney Years: Premiere Paul McCartney Tribute, Resurrection: A Journey Tribute and Elton Rohn: The Elton John Tribute, respectively the first three nights.

Resurrection has proven one of the best-attended acts each year they’ve played. They were booked for 2020 and reached out last year but couldn’t find a date that fit and will appear for the first time since 2018.

“We try to book an act that isn’t going to play 20 minutes from us,” Rowe said. “We want to showcase a lot of diversity to reach not just fans of the music but people who may not be as likely to attend a tribute.”

The McCartney Years played here previously and Elton Rahn is the first Elton John tribute in several years.

Another new tribute Rowe thinks the audience will like is The Ultimate Doors: Premiere Tribute to Jim Morrison and the Doors on June 22. This group is from Dayton and uses the same type vintage instruments the rock legends used.

Other new tributes include Shining Star: The Tribute to Earth, Wind and Fire; Material Girls, capturing the sounds of Madonna, Adele, Cher and other divas; That Arena Rock Show; Boy Band Review; and The Little Mermen: The Premier Disney Cover Band, doing beloved songs from the animated films.

Returning tributes include AbbaMania; Parrots of the Caribbean; The K-Tel All-Stars: Super Hits of the ‘70s; Hotel California: The Original Tribute to the Eagles; and Brass Tracks.

Original performers include the return of Grammy-winning soul group All-4-One and America’s Got Talent attraction Sons of Serendip, the classical crossover group that performed at the Clark State Performing Arts Center to an enthusiastic audience in 2019.

Family shows include the popular Mutts Gone Nuts! with comedian Jonathan Burns and the return of KidsFest.

Local performers have always added a personal touch and attendees can expect Nehemiah’s Unity of Hope Concert; Griffin House; The Springfield Symphony Orchestra; and Wyatt McCubbin, each making memories at past festivals.

Live theater will also be back in full force including the return of Broadway in the Park for the first time in three years with “Pippin: The Musical”, which has never been performed in the park, and the Youth Arts Ambassadors will do a variation on their usual slot with “Heathers” presented in a musical workshop performance. Rounding these out is an encore performance from the Cincinnati Shakespeare Co., which had a surprisingly strong reception in 2021, this time with “Twelfth Night.”

Rounding out the summer is traditional favorites Phil Dirt and the Dozers covering early rock favorites.

There will also be several special themed events to tie into various shows such as fireworks, Sip of Summer, Brews and BBQs and Parrothead Party in the Park.

Patrons are reminded some shows could be subject to change and weather is another factor to be aware of.

Rowe said he doesn’t anticipate any restrictions as pandemic procedures are being lifted, but should it change in the next few weeks they will be on top of it.

“We’re ready to welcome everybody back for the outdoor entertainment that’s been a part of Springfield for 56 years now,” he said.

For more information and updates on the Summer Arts Festival, go to

56th Annual Summer Arts Festival Schedule

(All shows start at 8 p.m. unless noted)

Week 1

Thursday, June 9 The McCartney Years: Premier Paul McCartney Tribute

Friday, June 10, Resurrection: A Journey Tribute

Saturday, June 11, Elton Rohn, The Elton John Tribute

Week 2

Wednesday, June 15-Friday, June 17, Broadway in the Park: “Pippin: The Musical”

Saturday, June 18, All-4-One

Sunday, June 19, Shining Star: The Tribute to Earth, Wind and Fire

Week 3

Wednesday, June 22, The Ultimate Doors: Premiere Tribute to Jim Morrison and the Doors

Thursday, June 23, Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers

Friday, June 24, Material Girls: Tribute to Madonna, Cher, Adele, Annie Lennox and others

Saturday, June 25 AbbaMania

Sunday, June 28, KidsFest, noon to 4 at the Springfield Museum of Art

Sunday, June 28, Nehemiah’s Unity of Hope Concert

Week 4

Wednesday, June 29, Mutts Gone Nuts! with special guest comedian Jonathan Burns

Thursday, June 30, Sons of Serendip

Friday, July 1, Parrots of the Caribbean and Parrothead Party in the Park

Saturday, July 2, The K-Tel All-Stars: Super Hits of the 70s!

Sunday, July 3, The Sly Band; fireworks at 10 p.m.

Week 5

Wednesday, July 6, Moscow Nights and Golden Gates

Thursday, July 7, That Arena Rock Show

Friday, July 8, The Motown Sounds of TOUCH; Sip of Summer Weekend

Saturday, July 9, Griffin House; Sip of Summer Weekend

Sunday, July 10, The Springfield Symphony Orchestra

Week 6

Wednesday, July 13, The Soul of Gospel

Thursday, July 14, Hotel California: The Original Tribute to the Eagles

Friday, July 15: Boy Band Review

Saturday, July 16, Wyatt McCubbin

Sunday, July 27, Cincinnati Shakespeare Co. presents “Twelfth Night”

Week 7

Wednesday, July 20, Youth Arts Ambassadors Musical Workshop Performance of “Heathers”

Thursday, July 21, “The Little Mermen: The Premiere Disney Cover Band”

Friday, July 22, Brass Tracks Band; Brews & BBQs Weekend

Saturday, July 23, Phil Dirt and the Dozers; Brews & BBQs Weekend

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