• What: Columbia Tech Center Sunday Sounds
• When: 6 to 8 p.m. Sundays through Aug. 13.
• Where: Columbia Tech Center Park, 1498 S.E. Tech Center Drive, Vancouver.
• Schedule: Aug. 6, Quarterflash; Aug. 13, Curtis Salgado.
Lawn chairs and blankets cover the grassy slope of the Columbia Tech Center Park.
The sun is shining, but the breeze keeps it feeling cooler. People shuffle between their grass swaths and the vendors selling hot foods and shave ice.
It’s a few minutes before 6 p.m., and the east Vancouver park is filling up. Ryan Euverman and his family spot their friends in the crowd and set up in the open space next to them.
This is the second Sunday evening Euverman and his wife and daughters have made the short drive to their neighborhood park to take in a free concert — part of the Columbia Tech Center Sunday Sounds summer concert series hosted by the city of Vancouver.
“We love it,” Euverman said. “The weather’s been great. The bands are good. It’s close, which is nice.”
“This park is a fantastic place to host this,” he added.
Tucked along Tech Center Drive, the park sits behind the Parkside Lofts apartments. An inflatable bandshell is set up on a concrete stage; the audience fills the grass terrace and open green space stretching back to the street.
The city of Vancouver partnered with Columbia Tech Center, which owns the park, to host the concert events, beginning in 2015.
“Our main reason for doing it was we do a lot of city-sponsored events in the downtown area, and we wanted to get out east,” said Stacey Donovan, special events manager for the city.
The first year, the city hosted two concerts at the park. Last year, it offered four. And this year, the city increased the series to include six concerts. As the number of shows increased, so too did the crowd sizes. The first concert of this summer, the Hit Machine, drew the largest crowd yet — 3,000 people, Donovan said.
“We’re very excited about the growth,” she said. “It really is inspiring for us.”
On a recent Sunday, a Fleetwood Mac tribute band, Gold Dust, was playing. That’s all it took for Andie Aronsohn to finally check out the weekly concert series in her neighborhood.
“I’m a huge Fleetwood Mac fan,” she said.
But only a few minutes into the event, Aronsohn had seen enough to know the first visit wouldn’t be her last.
“This is going to be a definite Sunday staple,” she said.
The concerts are a way for Aronsohn and her kids to get out of the house for some free and fun entertainment, she said. Aronsohn was also happy to see the variety of people who attended the event.
“I like living in a community like this,” Aronsohn said. “It’s a fun place to raise your kids.”
The Gold Dust concert was the first concert in the park for Kristin Dowling, too, though the band wasn’t the reason she came out. She didn’t even know who was playing before arriving just before the band took the stage. Her friends had come to past concerts and invited her to join.
Dowling, who lives about a quarter-mile from the park, and her friends shared dinner from a picnic basket as they listened to the music and enjoyed each other’s company.
“I think it’s a great community builder,” Dowling said. “It’s pretty amazing to have this many people come out to this park on a Sunday.”
Dowling said she’d love to see a longer concert season so people living nearby could take advantage of the nice summer weather and beautiful park. Euverman and his family just hope to see the event back year after year.
“I hope they continue to do it,” he said. “It’s something we look forward to and my daughters look forward to, and it’s a fun time.”
Marissa Harshman: 360-735-4546; firstname.lastname@example.org; twitter.com/MarissaHarshman