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Arts and Entertainment

Playhouse Merced

Playhouse Merced, founded in 1994, is the premier theatrical producing organization in the area. With over a dozen productions a year, including musicals, dramas, comedies and children’s offerings, the Playhouse offers the best in professional entertainment, while still offering a chance for local artists to participate. Its Children’s Conservatory provides after-school instruction in acting, voice and dance, in addition to offering production opportunities and two summer camps. Perfect for family or group outings, the Playhouse is the ideal locale for a business meeting, employee appreciation night, or just a rollicking good time. For more information, call the box office at (209) 725-TKTS.

Merced Symphony

The Merced Symphony began in 1958 and continues to provide the finest quality classical music attainable to Merced area audiences. The regular season includes classical concerts and special events. One of the highlights is the Children’s/Family Concert presented to schoolchildren during the day and to the public in the evening. Another popular event is our annual Chamber Concert. For additional information, call (209) 383-3277 or visit www.mercedsymphony.org.

Merced Shakespeare Festival

Since 2002, this community theater group has performed one or two Shakespeare plays each summer on the stage of the Merced Open Air Theater in Applegate Park. The audience on the lawn can see a 90-minute version of each play with Renaissance costumes, stage combat, music and dance for free! Usually there are performances for two weekends in August, sometimes in June as well. For more information, call founder and director Heike Hambley at (209) 723-3265 or visit www.mercedshakespearefest.org.

Central Valley Blues Festival

A musical show for friends and family is held in downtown Merced in the spring. The “Best of the West Festival” features famous Merced County musicians in concert at one time, playing all kinds of music. This festival helps raise money for the restoration of the Downtown Merced Theatre. For information, contact Rick Beckham at (209) 631-0453.

Merced Theatre

Built in 1931, this Spanish Colonial-style theater was one of the first to be connected with the Golden State Theater Circuit. This theater, considered the finest theater in the Western United States when it was finished, has seating for 1,600 people. Undergoing major renovations since 2002, the Merced Theatre is open to the public for films and a variety of performances. The theater is located at Main Street and MLK Jr. Blvd. For more information call (209) 723-2401 or visit www.mercedtheatre.org.

The Big Valley Arts & Culture Festival

Located in downtown Merced, this October festival offers patrons a chance to peruse through diverse works of art from local artists, as well as enjoy entertainment on the Street Stage and partake in hands-on art activities. For more information call the Multicultural Arts Center at (209) 388-1090.

Merced Garden Club

Merced Garden Club (MGC) has been meeting on the second Wednesday of the month, except July and August, for over 70 years at the Fish and Game Building at Yosemite Lake. MGC promotes an interest in horticulture, landscape design, gardening, flower arranging and enhancing our habitats. In April the club holds its annual garden tour of several of the finest gardens in Merced. Monthly meetings generally have programs led by experts on varying subjects such as plant propagation, flower arranging and seasonal topics and projects. Sometimes members participate on bus trips and tours of interest to gardeners. For membership information, call (209) 722-1656.

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