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MUSIC ACTS COMING BACK
Celebrate Virginia Live concerts to return

 The Travis Tritt concert, which drew several thousand fans, was one of the more successful acts in the Celebrate Virginia Live concerts' first season. The series will return in 2010.
FILE/ROBERT A. MARTIN/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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MORE PHOTOS: View fredericksburg.com's Bonus Images from last year's CVA Live concerts.

Date published: 10/22/2009

BY EMILY BATTLE

The Celebrate Virginia Live concerts that brought Travis Tritt, Toad the Wet Sprocket and other national acts to Fredericksburg for the first time last year will return in 2010.

David Peterson, whose Seven Hills Presents put the concert series together last year, said the first season proved to him that the Fredericksburg area can support an entertainment event like this.

However, Peterson also thinks the concerts can be built into an attraction that could eventually draw people from farther afield.

He is hoping to book bigger acts and to spend the off-season working on the venue in Celebrate Virginia in order to unveil a concert series next spring that would build on last year's events.

The Silver Cos. is a partner in the concerts and see them as a way to build momentum within the Celebrate Virginia development.

"We're real big believers in the project," said Silver Project Manager Scott Little. "We're hopeful that [Peterson] and his company will be a part of Celebrate Virginia long-term."

Little said Silver Cos. is in early talks with a developer who could incorporate a more structured, permanent home for the outdoor concert series into a mixed-use development that would complement the tourism destinations within Celebrate Virginia.

The largest tourism anchor for Celebrate Virginia is Kalahari Resorts, which is working on design for its 700-room water-park hotel and conference center while continuing to try to secure financing to get started on the $200 million project.

Over the years, live entertainment has always been part of the plan for Celebrate Virginia.

In 2006, Silver Cos. officials showed the city plans for an 18-acre downtown-style entertainment district that would include music-themed venues.

Those plans fell through after the developer Silver had been working with to build the district got into legal trouble.

But the Celebrate Virginia Live series offered a more immediate opportunity to draw people to some of the land that had been sitting empty toward the back of the 544-acre development, without waiting through the years of financing and construction work it takes to get a larger development off the ground.

Peterson's Seven Hills and Silver worked to plant grass on the field that served as the concert venue before the start of last year's series, but continual heavy rains often turned it into a muddy pit, and attendance suffered.

But as the season went on, Peterson said attendance improved, both as the weather became more cooperative and as several popular country acts showed up on the schedule.

Little said Silver has moved a large amount of topsoil onto the site this fall and graded it to improve drainage. The space is being heavily seeded so that a firm stand of grass will be in place for next year's shows.

Little said Silver is also working on other ways to revamp the area, such as installing an improved, better-marked entrance and hanging banners on the light poles on Gordon W. Shelton Boulevard to mark the location.

Peterson said he's hoping that the Fredericksburg venue will become more recognized--and therefore easier to book bands for--as it enters its second year.

"It's going to be bigger, better and more fun," he said.

Emily Battle: 540/374-5413
Email: ebattle@freelancestar.com