As the old saying goes, “Good things come to those who wait.”
That could easily apply to the Barbara Antonsen Memorial Park. After 16 years of delay, fundraising and a collapsed venue, the new performance pavilion at Posse Grounds Park is open for use.
To celebrate the completion of the project, the community is invited to celebrate its grand opening during a Wednesday, May 3, open house. Drop in any time from 4 to 7 p.m. to stroll the grounds, enjoy live music, theater and dance performances, and get a bite to eat. The pavilion has festival-style seating, so bring a chair or blanket to use on the lawn.
“It’s really exciting to see this project finally come to life,” City Manager Justin Clifton said. “While we’ve all waited a long time, I think we ended up with a venue that is really special. Barbara’s Park will play a key role in living up to our vision as a city animated by the arts.”
Mayor Sandy Moriarty and the rest of the Sedona City Council — as well as members and Friends of the Posse Grounds — will be on hand for a ribbon cutting at 4 p.m. followed by the open house. At the close of the open house at 7 p.m., Sedona Hub will host an after-party in the former teen center next door.
“I think the finished product is beautiful and amazing and will be very popular,” Parks and Recreation Manager Rachel Murdoch said. “Apparently the sound is very good within the pavilion. The way it was designed it amplifies the music nicely. Musicians have been surprised at the quality.
“People have commented on the great community vibe when you are sitting in there listening to music. I have also had several requests to play at night that I have had to reject and explain the rules to. People [renters] have also been surprised it does not have a fence around it to help with crowd control.”
The pavilion, which has a capacity of 300, has a permanent stage with canopy, sound system, dressing rooms and restrooms. Parking capacity is 180 spaces, and is located across the street.
Murdoch said they are now accepting reservations for private events such as weddings, seminars and classes, graduation parties and concerts at the park.
“It has been getting rented since the kick-off rental of the Mountain Bike Festival,” Murdoch said. “We have had birthday parties, yoga, weddings, lectures and coming up very soon an Easter Sunrise Church Service. I love the variety.”
For the most part, the pavilion was finished late last fall but the city decided to hold off until spring for any formal open house, although it’s already being used. In November, Assistant City Manager Karen Osburn said the city wanted to wait until everything was completely done before the official unveiling.
“While we had hoped to have the grand opening of Barbara’s Park Amphitheater this fall, we also want to make sure the venue has all the final touches complete before its big unveiling to the public,” Osburn said. “We look forward to celebrating this much anticipated venue, alongside the Friends of the Posse Grounds, this coming spring.”
In a letter to their supporters, Madeleine O’Callaghan, of Friends of the Posse Grounds, agreed with the delay.
“We have long awaited this day and we are going to wait a little bit more,” she wrote at the time. “It is clear that the infrastructure of all the major buildings and the stage will be completed by Nov. 15 but the finishing touches will not be ready for a grand opening. We want it to be ready for you and for ongoing performances before we hold an opening event. Hang tight — we will keep you informed. All is good.”
Those interested in rental the pavilion are asked to visit SedonaAz.gov/Parks and look to facilities and then pavilion.