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New Outdoor Venue Bringing The Entertainment Close
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The Westside Pavilion in Tuolumne opened at the end of May and has brought a variety of acts to the stage. On Friday, Aug. 10 Jeff Foxworthy and friends will be the headliners, followed by a performance by Smokey Robinson on Aug. 18. Photo Contributed

There is a new venue in the area that is bringing national touring acts to the stage so people in the Central Valley that want to be entertained no longer have to drive very far. The Westside Pavilion presented by Black Oak Casino is an outdoor venue that is surrounded by nature. The variety of entertainment that BJ Nelson, Executive Director of Operations for Black Oak Resort wants to bring to the Pavilion is everything for the masses to enjoy from country music, soul, R&B, to rock and roll, pop and comedy.

“We are touching on every single genre this year and what acts are hot,” stated Nelson. “We want to draw the best entertainment we can. So we are kind of hitting every single genre to kind of get the word out and get a different experience and provide entertainment options out there. We will continue to try to book acts guests want.”

The outdoor concert season runs through October and has the capacity for 6,000 people. Parking is free and there are shuttles available from Black Oak Casino to the venue.

The entertainment schedule includes Jeff Foxworthy and friends on Friday, Aug. 10; Smokey Robinson will perform on Aug. 18; 3 Doors Down and Collective Soul will rock the venue on Sept. 4; Bobby Brown and Bel Biv Devoe hit the stage on Sept. 9; and newly added to the mix, Big Head Todd and the Monsters and the Gin Blossoms with Tonic.

Kicking off the opening of the Westside Pavilion was country music artist Justin Moore at the end of May with Cam as his opener. The first show had thousands of guests in the general admission lawn area as well as seated guests. For the first concert, there were a lot of people which in turn results in lots of lines to get in, for food, for drinks, to get the IDs checked, and for the bathrooms.

Since that first concert, Nelson explained that there were some things they realized did not work and some changes that needed to be made. So they expanded the porta-potty section, as well as moving the beer, adding a food vendor in the VIP section, and putting in a line system to help manage the lines and enhance the visitor experience. There is an eight-foot rise in the lawn area which is general admission and low back lawn chairs are acceptable as well as blankets. There have been changes made to the lawn area specifically where people can stand and some added aisle ways put in as well.

“We made small changes and increased some staffing,” added Nelson. “We are a rural community so when you have a 6,000 seat venue we rely heavily on folks from outside of our community coming to visit us and we want to be a destination venue.”

With people in attendance from the Valley and several coming from the Bay Area, as well as folks from the North in the Sacramento region the Westside Pavilion has been packed with guests from all over the state, Nelson noted. There have been approximately 2,000 to 2,500 reserved seats and somewhere between 2,500 to 3,000 guests in the lawn area for each event, according to Nelson.

“We can modify the venue depending on shows,” stated Nelson. “We are still experimenting with what the right number of seating options are. We have seen very strong demand for our VIP tickets so the Diamond and Platinum tickets have been sold out for every show we have done so far.”

The VIP area has food vendors, drink vendors, a sitting area with televisions, and bathrooms with nice floors and air conditioning. Guests who purchase Diamond or Platinum tickets will have reserved seating in the first two sections to the stage as well as access to the VIP area. There is a specific entrance for VIP ticket holders and VIP parking.

“Our price points we think are vastly better than any other options in the market,” explained Nelson. “There is great value in our reserved seating as well. Our General Admission price point is also lower than anything else in the market. We haven’t sold any General Admission tickets over $40. We are trying to beat the price points and we are trying to make the experience better with every event we have. In particular we do take great pride in our premium pricing and our premium seats because we really like our VIP area too and the amenities that come with it and the experience that you get from being up front and close like that.”

There are a few more acts that will round out the outdoor venue shows this fall that have not been announced as of yet.

“We think we’ve got a good thing in a great location that is going to be highly competitive,” expressed Nelson. “It is hard to open a venue so we are just trying to get the word out. As far as the Pavilion itself, obviously we are very excited about the location; we think it is a beautiful spot, it’s outdoors, great scenery. Not only is it taking in some great entertainment but you are surrounded by nature.”