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BRIEF: Downtown is alive with the sound of music

Catch the final night of this annual summer concert series

Music emanates from Bellingham as Mount Baker looms in the background. Downtown Sounds closes off its 19th year of music on August 9, 2023 at 5:30 p.m. // Illustration by Inga Mansker-Stoker

Reporting credit: Finn Kurtz

Tonight marks the last show in the Downtown Bellingham Partnership's summer concert series, Downtown Sounds

After four consecutive Wednesdays of live music, food, games, vendors and a beer garden, the nonprofit's largest annual fundraiser will conclude on August 9 with performances from Groovebot and Polyrhythmics. This is also the last opportunity to use any drink tokens purchased since June 12, as they are nonrefundable. 

What started 19 years ago in an alley in Downtown's arts district has gradually expanded to three blocks on Prospect, Holly and Bay streets.

With the 20th anniversary approaching, Downtown Bellingham Partnership Program Director Lindsey Payne Johnstone has watched the event's attendance grow along with the space for the last 15 years.

"The true nature behind it is to put on something really special for the community to enjoy for free," she said.

As this year wraps up, Johnstone said plans are already underway for next year's 20th anniversary. She said the goal is to maximize the space available by moving the stage into the intersection of Prospect and Bay.

"Part of what we are looking to explore is adding some additional footprint space to the overall size of the event so that we can grow the beer garden, but we don't want to make the beer garden footprint bigger unless we're also making the family alley area bigger, " Johnstone said.

Downtown Sounds partners with many local businesses to operate its yearly program. The SPARK Museum, a long-time sponsor, provides restrooms and air conditioning for the event. The premiere sponsor of the summer shows is the Whatcom Educational Credit Union, which has collaborated with the partnership for several years. Julian & Company and Springhill Suites are also sponsors of this year’s sounds.

“We have so many community partners that make this event happen,” said Johnstone.

Groovebot will open at 6 p.m. followed by Polyrhythmics at 7:30 p.m. Visit the Downtown Sounds event page for a look back at this year's lineup and to stay tuned for updates on next year. 

Madisun Tobisch

Madisun Tobisch (she/her) is a third-year news/editorial major who has worked for The Front in some capacity since winter 2022. After all this time, her love of local news and celebrating the voices of her community keep her coming back for more. As returning managing editor this quarter, she hopes to further The Front's mission of keeping readers, both new and returning, informed and engaged. While not in the newsroom, Madisun can be found barista-ing, watching movies or trying to be creative.

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