Lakeland Rocks

Live music mixes with social activism Saturday night at Lakeland Rocks, a free outdoor concert downtown that features six bands and promotes voter registration to young adults.

“We’re looking for a street party feel,” said Linda Jezard, one of the organizers, describing the festival’s setting on Kentucky Avenue alongside Munn Park.

The 6-11 p.m. event includes diverse musical styles to appeal to a broad audience of Millennials, Jezard said. Performers include:

Dancers from The Lipstock Players will perform selections from an upcoming Rocky Horror Picture Show production between music sets.

The event is being coordinated by Inc., a non-partisan, non-profit organization affiliated with Rock the Vote. It formed “to drive young people to the voting polls; fusing pop culture, politics and technology and social media, we work to mobilize the Millennial voting bloc,” the group said in its organizing document.

concert poster

This isn’t their first rodeo — er, music festival. Jezard helped organize a similar event a dozen years ago about the time her daughter became eligible to vote.

The big lesson learned that time was don’t book too many bands (set changes took longer than anticipated), Jezard said. The biggest difference this time, she said, is the emergence of social media as the main way to reach an under-35 audience.

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter profiles have been the main tools to get the word out. The event venue is being set up with Snapchat filters and Pokémon Go lures. Fans are encouraged to sign up for text alerts.

Mobile vendors selling food and drinks at the alcohol-free event include Da Playce for Wings & Things and Jamaican food, Taylors Hot Dogs and Hillcrest Coffee.

Representatives of the Polk County Supervisor of Election and League of Women Voters will help people register to vote or to update their voter information. People who register at the event will be eligible to vote in the Nov. 8 presidential election since the registration deadline is Oct. 11.

The bands are playing without charge, Jezard said. A video crew from NFocus will project the performers and public service messages onto large screens at the site.

The committee coordinating the event is divided between Baby Boomers and Millennials, Jezard said, with the idea that the younger group will be able to take over and organize future voter-registration concerts.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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