Shellabration still searching

Organizers with Shellabration said they are working hard to secure a headliner for the annual concert, which is held in Fort Dodge early in the summer.

Shellabration President Jim Reed said this year there has been an “unusually long extended process” in finding the headliner for the concert.

“We actually started back in October,” Reed said. “We did a survey to help us glean what people wanted to hear, and we ranked the artists that people wanted in order. We’ve tried to adhere to that pecking order.”

Reed said Shellabration has made offers to bands.

“Not a single day has gone by since we started this process that we haven’t had a legally binding offer,” he said. “But we’re having a heck of a time getting somebody to say ‘yes.'”

The biggest factor that has caused bands to decline is scheduling issues.

“We made our first offer to the band ZZ Top, but they ended up deciding on a European tour,” Reed said. “We made a significant offer to Boston for a June date, but unfortunately they were picking primary and secondary markets because they have their first new CD out in 10 years.”

Another offer was made to Heart, but Reed said that band is taking July off from touring.

“I feel like we’re playing music band booking chairs, and we’re the last event standing without a chair,” he said. “Or in this case, without a headliner.”

Other complications include the use of the Oleson Park Bandshell, which is where the concert is held.

“There are other annual events that take place in Fort Dodge that we’re respectful of,” Reed said. “That tears down a number of weekends we can do this on. By the time you have the band you need to match up venue availability.”

Still, Reed said Shellabration is determined to name a headliner sooner rather than later.

“The public has really grown to appreciate what we do,” he said. “We want to be able to announce something as soon as possible.”

Last year’s headliner, Styx, had signed on to perform at Shellabration on Dec. 19, 2012, seven months before the concert. Reed said that was earlier than previous years.

“We had all kinds of time to plan and solicit sponsors,” he said. “This year our window for everything was definitely cut much shorter.”

He said he hopes to get a headliner and date for Shellabration as soon as possible.

“This I can assure the public,” he said. “We know the public’s got a thirst for what we’re selling, and we’ll have something cool once we’re all dialed in.”