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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
540-483-5113
Fax: 540-483-8013

First concert draws 325 music fans to Harvester Center

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Rocky Mount's new music venue opened its doors Friday with a crowd of over 325 music fans raising the curtain to see headliner Levi Lowrey and local musicians Kyle Forry and Justin Arnett.

"I couldn't have predicted a better opening," said Assistant Town Manager Matt Hankins, who led the development of the Harvester Performance Center. "Great music, great fans, great volunteers, great weather."

Fans lined up starting an hour before the doors opened, with over 100 in line when the center opened. By the time the first concert started, the just-finished performance center was over two-thirds full.

"We didn't have a single problem or complaint reported," Hankins said. "Everyone was able to find a parking spot in easy walking distance, all of our sales equipment worked, the sound and rooms were beautiful, and everyone left happy, including the artists."

Harvester General Manager Gary Jackson had predicted a crowd of 300 prior to the opening.

"I've been in this business a long time, and you tend to get a pretty good feel for what kind of crowd to expect," Jackson said. "With this being the first show and with no advance ticket sales, it was a little harder to know what kind of turnout we would get at the Harvester."

Jackson praised the volunteers and staff for a smooth opening.

"We had about 25 volunteers working throughout the evening to ensure our guests enjoyed a great experience," Jackson said. "Our assistant venue manager, Sheila Silverstein, Matt Hankins and Stacey Sink did a great job of getting people in the right places at the right times to ensure people had a great time."

The sound system, lobby and the stage were all high points of the night for visitors, which included attendees from as far away as Salem, Blacksburg, Martinsville, Bedford and Fredericksburg.

"This is absolutely a world-class sound system," Jackson said. "The design created a sound experience that blocks out sound from outside the building without overwhelming the audience. I had lots of compliments about the appearance of the stage, the auditorium and of the quality of the lobby furniture and fixtures provided by one of our corporate sponsors, Grand Home Furnishings."

Grand Home Furnishings furnished sofas, chairs, bar tables and decorations throughout the building, including the artists' green room, where the musicians relax before and after shows.

Hankins stressed the economic development impact of the Harvester to the future of Rocky Mount.

"Over 80 percent of our ticket sales so far are going to people outside of Rocky Mount and Franklin County," Hankins said. "Those are people who will come here, eat, stay overnight and shop who under most circumstances would not have come to Rocky Mount if we had not given them a reason to do so."

Hankins pointed to anecdotal evidence that the Friday night show made an impact in the community.

"I've talked to some of the local restaurant owners who saw increased business on Friday night as a result of the concert, and I gave directions to several fans who showed up early and wanted to find places to eat," Hankins said. "I'm really looking forward to measuring the economic development impact after our first year."

Ticket sales for Lowrey's return appearance on May 3 immediately spiked after the show.

"When Levi returns May 3 to take on the Zac Brown Band's Clay Cook, I think we'll have an even bigger crowd than we did this time," Jackson said. "We've got some great entertainment coming up all year."

Contractors for Price Buildings are now wrapping up the final construction details, and they expect to be done by April 24.

The Harvester will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday, April 24, prior to the Indigo Girls show, with more details to be announced later this week. Tickets are on sale now for all shows at www.harvester-music.com.

 
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