What started in 2002 as a one-time patrons' appreciation event has become so popular that Missouri River Regional Library keeps bringing it back to Jefferson City year after year.
"When most people think of libraries, they think of books. But in my mind, we are an important educational, informational and cultural institution," MRRL Director Claudia Schoonover said.
It's her first year organizing MRRL's "Cultural Concerts" on her own, with the series set to start with a 7:30 p.m. performance this Friday on the state Capitol South Lawn. A second concert is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 25.
"I think the concerts are a way to bring the cultural aspect to life," Schoonover said. "The community looks forward to it every year. It's something they come to the library and ask about."
Because of the number of people who attend the concerts, the library is not able to hold the concerts inside its building.
"The previous library employee who started this event reached out to the Capitol and asked if we might use their venue to bring the concert to the community. We have attracted as many as 1,200 in one concert," Schoonover said.
However, some problems can arise with open-air music events, Schoonover has learned.
"After going through two rainouts last year, I thought I better come up with a plan B," she said.
That backup plan is a rainout date of Sept. 15 at the Miller Performing Arts Center for the Aug. 11 concert, and a same-day relocation to the Miller center for the Aug. 25 concert.
One thing has changed — this year's series will feature two concerts this fall instead of three.
"The Capital Jazzfest, which we also support with organizing one band, will take place in the beginning of September. We would be in competition with each other, and that's just not necessary," the library director explained. "We work together and we all work for the community."
The 2017 Cultural Concerts include two groups from St. Louis. The Bag Lunch Blues Band will play this Friday, and Celtic a cappella group The Wee Heavies will follow in two weeks.
She noted musical groups are always excited to perform on the Capitol steps: "They consider that an honor. It's a beautiful venue, and the space is ideal for an evening concert."
Sponsors include the Missouri River Regional Library Foundation, Jefferson City Parks & Recreation, the Downtown Jefferson City Association and KJLU 88.9FM. Admission to this family-friendly event is free.
Concert organizers suggest bringing lawn chairs and blankets.