Twenty-five years ago in Grand Rapids, the Van Andel Arena still was on the drawing board. Meijer Gardens had opened just three months earlier, but it would be many years before an outdoor amphitheater would be built as a venue for summer concerts. But, there was something else about ready to begin, that has now been a summer favorite for thousands.

At Cannonsburg Ski Area, on a steamy evening in mid-July, the Grand Rapids Symphony launched a brand-new, outdoor concert experience called the Picnic Pops.

This summer, the Grand Rapids Symphony celebrates the 25th anniversary of its D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops with a series of three shows that are all-time favorites with Picnic Pops audiences plus a special event capping off four weeks of concerts at Cannonsburg.

The Picnic Pops debuted July 13-14, 1995, with patriotic music, fireworks, and pianist Rich Ridenour playing Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.”

This Thursday and Friday, the 25th anniversary season of the D&W Fresh Market Picnic Pops opens at 8 p.m. much as it did on that steamy day in July 1995 with pianist Rich Ridenour playing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the Grand Rapids Symphony, plus a star-spangled, spectacular salute to America.


And, of course, the big finish, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture ends the night with a fireworks finale sponsored by Lacks Enterprises.

The 3-Concert Series, Flexpass, and individual table and chair tickets can be purchased through the GRS box office by calling (616) 454-9451 ext. 4 weekdays; or in person at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW, Suite 100; or online at

Tickets also are available at the gate at the night of the concert for an additional $5. Group discounts are available for groups of 10 or more people by calling (616) 454-9451.


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