LeighAnn VanEpps grew up in Lebanon but moved away in here early adult years.
But the growth she has seen in the community was enough to draw her back to her hometown, along with her partner, Texas native Brandon Hendley, and their child.
The couple got a babysitter for a Saturday night and joined the crowd at a standing-room only Strawberry Plaza for a night of music at the Conversion Brewing Summer Bands and Brews concert series. The concert was headlined by the Salem-based Gabriel Cox band.
For VanEpps, the concert series and other community events helped convince her to return.
"Having the community be more involved and more together, compared to how it was when I was younger, was a huge factor coming back. It's really awesome," VanEpps said. ""We're fans of Conversion and we really enjoy how the community has stepped up and become more community minded."
Hendley grew up in Conroe, Texas, which is north of Houston. He loves Texas-style blues and enjoyed the performance by the Gabriel Cox band.
"Great music and a beautiful evening," Hendley said.
Jeanine Gibeart of Salem ran the merchandise booth for the band. She said the band has performed in Lebanon several times and is always happy to return.
"This is one of my favorite venues," Gibeart said. "Great acoustics, great atmosphere, and the food and drinks are really good at Conversion."
Strawberry Plaza was filled to capacity the show. The series began in June and continues through the end of August. The current concert slate is:
- July 13 - Mitch and the Mechanics.
- July 20 - 8-Balls.
- July 27 - Fox and Bones.
- Aug. 3 - Hank Shreve Band.
- Aug. 10 - Jobe Woosley and Co.
- Aug. 17 - Breakers Yard.
- Aug. 24 - The Hereafters.
- Aug. 31 - The Hidwaways.
The Conversion Brewing Summer Bands and Brews concert series is not the only concert series at Strawberry Plaza. On Friday, July 5, the first Noon at the Plaza concert was held featuring Wild Hog in the Woods.
This series will continue for the next six weeks, concluding with a concert and the second annual Quirky Turkey Awards ceremony. This week's noon concert will feature East Dream Chinese Dance, a troupe of Chinese folk dancers with spectacular costumes.
The annual Concerts in the Park series presented by the Lebanon Downtown Association began this week with a performance by the James F. Wright band at Ralston Park. This series will continue each Tuesday evening with performances by Fun With Jo, the Bush Pilots, The Barker Gypsies and the Donny Thorp Band.