VALPARAISO | Central Park Plaza was a busy place in 2012 with 107 events, but, as Valparaiso prepares to unveil plans for the park's expansion, it's already set for an even busier 2013.
Parks Director John Seibert and Special Events Coordinator Tina St. Aubin agreed the park could have more than 120 events this year, starting with the first farmers' market June 1 and continuing through Popcorn Fest in September and Holly Days at Christmas time. St. Aubin said more than 90 events are planned by her office of Valparaiso Community Festivals and Events as compared to about 80 in 2012.
"It has proven to be a successful place," she said.
One of those contracts is for a concert by a group, who will be one of the new attractions this year. Until the contract is signed, St. Aubin would not reveal the group's name, but they will have the one ticketed event at the park. The rest are free.
"It you want to bring in top name acts, it means a big price tag," she said. "It is a risk because we don't know how it will be received. The park can hold several thousand people, and we would like to see at least 2,000 for the concert. We also will have a wine festival June 15."
The department also arranges events at the park and controls rentals of the facilities for company picnics, graduation parties and other celebrations. Seibert said four already are booked with many more expected. St. Aubin said the VCFE has reached the limit of events it can handle with its budget and staff of three.
Seibert said plans for the expansion of the park on property west of the Porter Health Amphitheater are being finalized and will be presented to the park board in April.
The city will seek donations, sponsorships and grants to built it, and Seibert said work could begin as early as the fall. A new ice rink will provide a venue for events to be held all year.
"I can foresee that we will add events and make events larger to include more activities with bigger names because we have more space," St. Aubin said. "The plans are looking incredible, and it is really exciting."