Salute! concert organizers hoping weather holds out

Members of the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic warm up before the annual Salute concert in downtown Columbus on May 26, 2023. This year’s event is slated at Columbus Municipal Airport, weather permitting.

If only the Indiana National Guard howitzers could simply blow Friday’s expected rain clouds right out of the sky.

The gleaming weaponry with other military machinery will be on hand for the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic’s annual Salute! free patriotic concert slated at 7 p.m. today at the Columbus Municipal Airport.

At this point, the gathering has no rain location, with so many elements that must be set in motion in advance. So, with an forecast of showers in at least 40% of the local area by this evening, organizers are hoping that possible thunderstorms will move beyond south central Indiana before this evening.

In the gathering’s 24 years, it has been pushed indoors twice — once at the original Commons in 2001 and once at Judson Erne Auditorium in 2022. Rain also stopped the event once about an hour into the program in 2002.

Donnie Robinette, the orchestra’s executive director, pragmatically called the weather situation “just one of the chances taken with outdoor events.”

“I remember in 2021, it rained right up to showtime,” he said.

It did indeed. In fact, when the sun finally burst through the clouds as the orchestra prepared for tuning, artistic director David Bowden spontaneously burst into the opening lines of the classic Beatles’ tune “Here Comes the Sun.”

Robinette and his staff and volunteers are urging concertgoers to arrive at the site as early as 5:30 or 6 p.m. today. The concert, which has attracted as many as approximately 5,000 to 6,000 people some years, including almost entire families, normally has been held at the Bartholomew County Memorial for Veterans, but construction at the Bartholomew County Courthouse has prevented that this year.

About five food and beverage trucks will be at the site. Portable restrooms also will be available.

Any inclement weather delays or cancellations will be posted at and at the orchestra Facebook page of Columbus Indiana Philharmonic.

Late Republic associate editor and columnist Harry McCawley launched the idea of the concert to honor veterans each Memorial Day weekend. McCawley regularly wrote about veterans and their memories and records of service.