RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — It’s been well over a year since Richmonders were able to stand shoulder to shoulder or sit next to each other in their lawn chairs and enjoy their favorite musical artists perform live in concert.
But that’s all about change as some big name talents like Brad Paisley, Ludacris, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Foreigner will soon take the stage at Meadow Event Park in Doswell.
EventMakers-USA, the promotions company that produced and managed the Innsbrook After Hours Concert Series, announced a new After Hours Concert Series lineup along with naming the Meadow Event Park in Doswell its new home.
While the Innsbrook After Hours venue in Henrico County remains in operation – a note on their website says, “We can’t wait to see you in 2021!” – this concert series from EventMakers-USA has moved to a new location.
“It’s been a very, very rough 14 or 15 months,” EventMakers-USA President Larry Creeger told 8News. “I’ve been in the professional event industry for going on 35 years and have gone through all sorts of complications and difficulties. But nothing compared to this. We’ve worked very, very hard over the last 10-12 months to make this happen.”
The live event industry in Virginia has been crippled over the last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions put in place by Gov. Ralph Northam. Many local music venues are still closed, even as loosened restrictions are set to go into effect April 1. But Creeger said because he and his company continued to book talent and shuffle shows even during the height of the pandemic, they were well-prepared to put together a concert series when the conditions were right.
“We were hopeful to get shows in last year,” Creeger said. “We moved shows constantly. We got to August, September and October, and then we moved to September, October and even November, but it became obvious at some point that we weren’t going to get any shows in. Fortunately the talent groups that we work with, by-and-large, just picked up the shows and moved them to 2021, which took some doing.”
“We were optimistic going forward that May would be a better scenario, not the best,” he added. “But we decided to kick it off in May and June. We did move some of our shows in May to later in the year only because of the restrictions we are bound to have on us in May.”
Opening night of the new After Hours Concert Series at Meadow Event Park is set for May 14, where country singer Jamey Johnson will perform. Back-to-back shows will take place on May 21 and 22, with concerts scheduled throughout the summer and into the fall months.
Creeger said Meadow Event Park will be able to accommodate 8,500 people on 12 acres of land for shows this year. That number seems huge for a concert given the ongoing pandemic, and it is. But Creeger also said the venue will allow the space to properly distance concert goers.
“We’re going to be extremely cautious and tight with our social distancing and mask wearing, we have all that in place,” he said. “There will be some people who will be a good distance from the stage, but they’ll have big screens so they can watch also, and hopefully people will enjoy being outside and listening to live music.”
The timing of the venue change was apropos. Creeger knew at the end of 2019 that they would likely have to find a new home as the owners of the land at Innsbrook were looking to build a new mixed-use development.
But for those sad to see this concert series at Innsbrook go, Creeger said to look on the bright side. Not only will the new digs be able to accommodate more people when things go back to normal, the new setting will make getting in and getting out easier than it ever was to attend a big show in the West End.
“I’ve had people tell me that they live 10 minutes from Innsbrook, and on a big show night it would take them an hour, hour-and-a-half to get in and an hour to get out,” he said. “Well here, it’ll take them 15 minutes to get in and 10 minutes to get out. So it’ll be a completely different world.”
“After such a challenging 2020, we are excited about the After Hours Concert partnership and look forward to continued growth for the facility,” Caroline County Board of Supervisors Chair Reginald L. Underwood said in a statement. “The impact of the events held throughout the year continues to be positive for our county and business community.”
Tickets for some shows are already on sale, with tickets going on sale for other concerts on April 2. For more information on the concert lineup, to purchase tickets and season passes, visit www.afterhoursconcertseries.com.
Editor’s note 3/31/21: This article was updated to reflect that Innsbrook After Hours remains open as a venue.