Downtown Jefferson City's Thursday Night Live event series would no longer have been possible without changes for the coming season, organizers said this week.
The Downtown Jefferson City Association recently announced the coming changes, some of which have been met with criticism.
But association Secretary Angela Nale said they had no choice.
"Last year was a tough year on us," Nale said. "We took a large hit."
The 2019 Thursday Night Live season will bring with it a new admission fee.
"It costs to put on the event with the stage, lighting, bands, security and port-a-potties," Nale said. "In the past, our format was set up to where bands could look for a sponsor. We wanted it so they didn't have to do that, but we couldn't get that."
The board set the fee at $5 for everyone 3 years or older, but Nale said they would revisit the cost for children at the Tuesday board meeting.
"We look at it as, any concert you go to, no matter the age, you have to pay," Nale said.
Other changes include no longer holding the event every Thursday in June.
"June weather is unpredictable, and it was just becoming difficult to use every Thursday," she said. "Last year, between the heat and rain and the building collapse at the corner of Madison and High streets where we have our stage, we had only half of our planned events take place."
This year's Thursday Night Live events are scheduled May 9, June 13, Aug. 8, Sept. 12 and Oct. 24.
"We believe spreading these out will make it easier for people to attend, especially when trying to plan vacations and kids' activities," Nale said. "We're not putting all our eggs in one basket this way."
Another change is holding the event from 7-10 p.m. instead of 6-9 p.m.
"That was done in consultation with area businesses," Nale said. "The retail businesses in the area will not lose their customer base because they won't have to shut down early."
Also a change this year, only the 200 block of High Street will be blocked off, rather than three blocks as in past years.
"Attendance has decreased in recent years, so all that area was no longer warranted," Nale said. "This way, High and Madison is still open, and it's better for restaurants and businesses in downtown.
"This is done at Summerfest in Columbia. They only have one block filled with groups, charge admission and it's a success."
The association also wants to emphasize while children are welcome at Thursday Night Live, it's not a child-oriented event.
"We've had multiple complaints or concerns about the event not being family-friendly, especially when alcohol is being served, but we never intended for this to be a children's event," Nale said. "Children are more than welcome, as long as people know there will be alcohol served in the area."
The goal is to make Thursday Night Live self-sufficient, Nale said — the event is not earning a profit.
"All the money paid through the gate admission pays for the event," Nale said. "We talked about wanting some big acts to come in, and people thought we were saying we don't want local groups playing. That's not true. There will be local talent displayed.
"These are baby steps. We can't afford a Top 40 band yet, but we want to get to that point."