After decades of neglect, a Windsor woman is hoping to restore the Jackson Park Bandshell, an old Windsor relic that was once the place for noteworthy music festivals and celebrations in the area.
A Facebook page promoting the restoration of the bandshell has gained traction in less than a month since its posting. Close to 1,000 people have liked the page so far. Sarah Lestage, the organizer of the page and an avid fan of the performing arts, stumbled upon the structure one day in Jackson Park. She sees the potential to return the outdoor entertainment hub into its former glory.
The Jackson Park bandshell has remained unused for more than 20 years. It was rebuilt in 1959 after a fire that destroyed the original structure in 1957. The bandshell was once the top music spot in Windsor for the Firemen’s Field Day celebrations, the Battle of the Bands and the historic Emancipation Day festivals, which featured acts like Diana Ross and the Temptations and speakers such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Eleanor Roosevelt.
On Friday, September 20, Lestage will meet with James Chacko, senior manager of parks operations for the city to determine if they can restore the venue. Over the years, city officials say that several different groups have looked at resurrecting the bandshell, but to no avail. Garnering support from local musicians, theatre groups, and other artists may be the key to moving the project forward.
One of those supporters of seeing the bandshell restored is Windsor lawyer and firm partner Greg Monforton. Monforton performed twice on that stage as a bass player in the early 70s for Battle of the Bands. Not only was it an opportunity for young musicians to show their talent, it was also an opportunity to perform in front of large audience, commented Monforton. Between 3,000 to 4,000 people would come out to enjoy the festivities, which the city of Windsor needs now more than ever, he said.