MANKATO — When the Vetter Stone Amphitheater at Riverfront Park opened in June 2010, artists were initially skeptical about booking concerts in the untested outdoor venue.
But it hasn’t taken long to earn their trust. From a 2012 concert lineup that included names such as Tesla, Ted Nugent, Trampled By Turtles and Willie Nelson, to this year’s lineup that is anchored with similarly recognizable performers, Riverfront Park has established itself as a regional music destination.
“At first, agents and artists were skeptical that we could make this a viable venue,” said Burt Lyman, executive director of the Verizon Wireless Center, which handles booking for Riverfront Park. “But it’s getting easier and easier to book. We’ve proven we can do big events.”
The concert season begins with Arts by the River on June 8, which is headlined by a familiar face in the Mankato area — Martin Zellar and the Gear Daddies. RibFest will be held Aug. 1-4 and include musical acts Blackhawk, Everclear and Loverboy.
The season is rounded out with a diverse collection of artists that range from those included on the Jagermeister Country Tour — former Staind vocalist and emerging country performer Aaron Lewis as well as Brian Davis and Rick Monroe — to a 1980s rock lineup that includes Ratt, Dokken and Lita Ford.
Other notables include country legend Merle Haggard on July 24 and electric blues pioneer Buddy Guy on Sept. 14.
Lyman credited Eric Jones, marketing manager for the civic center, for his diligence in crafting a concert lineup that appeals to everyone.
“There really is a little something for everyone,” Lyman said.
The full lineup includes:
• June 8: Arts by the River, featuring the Gear Daddies
• June 19: Jagermeister Country Tour with Aaron Lewis, Brian Davis and Rick Monroe
• June 29: Blues Traveler
• July 3: Buckcherry
• July 24: Merle Haggard
• Aug. 1-4: RibFest, featuring Blackhawk, Everclear and Loverboy
• Aug. 15: Ratt, with Sebastian Bach, Dokken and Lita Ford
• Sept. 14: Buddy Guy
Tickets for Riverfront Park events go on sale at noon May 17. For more information, visit www.verizonwirelesscentermn.com.