Grant Recipient

Fairfax County Park Authority – Bonding the Parks with the Arts

Concertgoers enjoy live music at the amphitheatre in Mason District Park on a warm summer evening in June 2011. The performance was one of many offered during the Spotlight by Starlight Concert Series held at the Annandale park.

About the Fairfax County Park Authority’s Summer Concert Series

For most busy families, an invitation to spend a summer evening together listening to live music in a comfortable, picturesque venue elicits responses of, “What’s the catch?” or more importantly, “How much?” 

With the Fairfax County Park Authority’s Summer Concert Series, however, there is no catch.  For the past 20 years, it has offered free, outdoor community concerts throughout Fairfax County to Northern Virginia families.  

“The outdoor concerts give residents a chance to get close with nature and enjoy their friends and family for the evening, without spending any money,” said Sousan Frankenberger, special event and volunteer manager for the Fairfax County Park Authority.

The Summer Concert Series offers more than 200 concerts each summer season in Fairfax County parks. The concerts average 70,000 attendees per season and in 2011 featured diverse musical programming including jazz, folk, and bluegrass. International dancers, puppets and storytellers were among other acts that performed on the parks’ stages.

“The concerts create an environment where families spanning from grandparents to toddlers can join together based on their love of the arts,” Frankenberger said.  “As an added benefit, the concerts are great because patrons get to know their neighborhood parks.  They appreciate the overall environment and natural settings, which in turn, creates park stewards.”

495 Express Lanes Community Grant Support

The Summer Concert series helps build a sense of community in Northern Virginia by bringing together neighborhoods, sponsors, and volunteers. 

While county sources such as the Fairfax County Park Authority, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Fairfax County arts communities, the Fairfax County Arts Organization, and volunteers provide in-kind support, no Fairfax County tax monies are used to support the program.  The concert series depends on sponsors to help fund the concerts. 

“We’re lucky that there are many performers in the area, but the main challenge we face is having enough funding to pay them,” Frankenberger said. 

To help cover the cost of the concerts, the Fairfax County Park Foundation applied for a community grant from the 495 Express Lanes.  The grant funding supported programming for four concert series. 

“Grants from sponsors such as the 495 Express Lanes show that donors are still willing to contribute during difficult economic times to provide something valuable to the community,” Frankenberger said.  “We’re very appreciative of the grant as it helps us provide a greater number of quality shows.”

Frankenberger said the concert series aims to create an enjoyable evening for concert guests and a bond between the parks and the arts, and adds that “the grant from the 495 Express Lanes Community Grant Program helped us achieve just that.”

The Express Lanes team chose to support the summer concert series because of its commitment to the community.

“The summer concert series is not only a great family event, but it also provides residents with an opportunity to learn more about the parks in the area,” said Tim Steinhilber, Transurban’s general manager for the 495 Express Lanes Project. “We are pleased to support the Summer Concert Series through the Park Foundation so that the Fairfax County Park Authority can continue its great work for the community and environment.”

More Information

The Fairfax County Park Authority is planning next year’s Summer Concert Series and is always looking for new talent for the concerts and volunteers to staff the events.  To submit talent or volunteer names, please email Sousan Frankenberger at or call (703) 324-8566.

For updates on the entire concert series, please visit