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Ashland's Summer Motion kicks off 25th year

Jul. 01, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

ASHLAND -- Summer Motion President Cade Mahan wanted to make the 25th edition of the July 4 holiday free concert series a special one.

"This year's lineup is one of the strongest we've had in years," Mahan said Thursday. "We want to make it bigger and better and keep it growing."

The headline acts for the three-day event along the Ashland riverfront includes the 1980s rock group Loverboy scheduled to perform Wednesday, July 3. Sawyer Brown is making its second trip to Summer Motion and are scheduled to perform Thursday before the annual fireworks show at 10:15 p.m. July 4, and the classic rock group Styx is scheduled to perform Friday, July 5.

Summer Motion is set to move to Ashland's Central Park on Saturday and Sunday, July 6 and 7.

Mahan will be watching the Ohio River level over the next few days to see whether heavy rains and river levels force the concert series to move to Central Park as it did several years ago when riverfront improvements forced the move to Central Park.

"We're always concerned about the weather," Mahan said of the outdoor activities planned as part of five-day Summer Motion. "We have a contingency plan in place. We'll move everything to Central Park if we have to. We'll make the call on Monday."

"We're excited to have Sawyer Brown here again," he said. "They put on a heck of a show. They were here on the 10th Summer Motion, so we're glad to have them back."

Summer Motion has a huge economic impact on Ashland, said Mayor Chuck Charles.

"A large part of the crowd aren't from Ashland," he said. "Some people follow the groups around the country, especially at free concerts. It has a positive impact on the city. I like the idea of drawing people to Ashland."

City police generally close off the riverfront when the crowd reaches around 28,000, Mahan said.

Charles, former Summer Motion president, remembers that when Sawyer Brown performed 15 years ago, high water forced the movement of the stage near the railroad tracks and the floodwall.

"We've updated our sound system," Mahan said. "We've updated our lighting system. We're hoping for good weather and big crowds. We know the bridge closing had impacted city businesses, but we believe people will find a way to get here."

The closing of the Ben Williamson Bridge at 12th Street has forced a change in the running of the 10-K race, Mahan said. This year's race will run through the downtown, but not across the bridges, he said.

"We want to use Central Park a little bit more this year," Mahan said. "We've added more inflatables and games. Summer Motion is such a great event for our community. All the events are family friendly and alcohol-free."

Another new event this year is a two-on-two volleyball tournament in Central Park. There will be a men's tournament, a women's tournament, a boy's junior tournament and a girl's junior tournament, he said.

Other scheduled events include New Ohio Championship Wrestling, a bicycle tour, a car show, a blood drive, a cornhole tournament, an arts and crafts show and a motorcycle show.

A full schedule of events is available at www.summermotion.com

Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, in conjunction with Summer Motion, will offer a health fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday at Central Park. Health screenings include cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar evaluations.