Mar 22, 2017–Cause that’s what makes her happy.
That is the top reason Sloan Ruth gives for creating The Backyard behind Fritztown Cinema. The new outdoor music venue will open April 7 with its first of many regular concerts.
“I’m not musical, though I took piano for four years,” Ruth explained. “But I’m a concert junkie.”
Her proof? She went to her first concert when she was just 4 years old. The performer? Elvis. The Elvis.
“I remember wanting to get that scarf.”
Since opening Fritztown Cinema several years ago, Ruth has transformed and expanded the offerings of the former Stagecoach Theater. She has partnered with film festivals and education programs, added food items, and installed a full bar for theater goers. But when she looked outside, she saw unused space.
“When we bought the theater, it was sitting on five acres. We wanted to use that space.”
Ruth considered starting a drive-in theater, but quickly dismissed the idea. She reflected on the town and where it was headed.
“Fredericksburg is growing so fast, with so many tourist things, I knew at some point someone would do a large outdoor concert venue,” she said. “So, why not me?”
So she embarked on the project, and it’s a big one, and keeps getting bigger.
As a musician who has played too many postage-stamp stages, the first thing I appreciated was the large main stage. It started out at 15 by 30 feet, but has “grown considerably.” The main section is now 25 by 40, with two sides that are 15 by 15. It’s all covered. There is even a green room that is larger than the original stage.
That demonstrates that she has done her homework, putting a lot of thought into the experience of both the performer and the fan. Musicians will appreciate interior fencing where semis and busses can pull in to unload in private space. Concertgoers will appreciate the three outside bars, converted from storage units. Atop the units are 13 VIP boxes, seating 12 each and having their own wait staff. The bars will have full liquor offerings and as many as 22 bartenders. Food trucks will be on site for concerts.
Ruth plans to have some type of music every weekend, tapping a mix from the deep local talent to a large national act about once a month.
The entertainment won’t be limited to music, according to Ruth, who calls it “a totally different space.” Being adjacent to the movie theater, it can offer outdoor family movie nights built around a theme.
She talks of a backyard boil, outdoor clinics, and renting out the space for parties and private events. Not only is she installing a 3000-square-foot dance floor, she plans to hold dance nights in the summer where they will give dance lessons before a show.
While the Grand Opening is set for June, the soft open will be on April 7.
Ruth hopes everyone will enjoy going to concerts at The Backyard as much as she enjoys going to concerts.
“I want people to go ‘old school,’” she said. “Come out, decompress, get off your devices, have a drink, spend time with friends. Those are the kinds of moments we can’t get back. The older I get, I realize those moments are harder to come by. I want you to come to our backyard!”
Maybe you’ll even see the next “Elvis.”
The Backyard will offer weekly Saturday-night concerts. The first show is April 7 with Davey Schrank, with Josh Dodds opening. Cody Canada and The Departed perform April 15. Information at thebackyardatfritztown.com.