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November 30, 2023

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Toledo Zoo Amphitheater amps up


Steely Dan performs at The Toledo Zoo Amphitheater as part of the summer concert series the zoo has hosted since 1987. Sarah McLachlan will take to the stage and perform Wednesday as part of her “Summer Symphony Orchestra Tour.”

this summer

The Toledo Zoo has hosted concerts for more than 60 years and this year is no different with big name performers coming to the park all throughout the summer months.

The Amphitheater in the zoo stands as the location of all the performances.

“It’s a fantastic venue that provides people with an intimate show,” said Andi Norman, director of Marketing and Public Relations for the Toledo Zoo.

The venue seats 4,000 to 5,000 people depending on the show’s set up, Norman said.

“There’s really not a bad seat in the house,” she said. “It’s not going to be like at some venues where the people look like ants on stage.”

The zoo has already seen Joe Walsh perform May 31 and looks toward Wednesday, June 27 when Sarah McLachlan will take the stage. According to, McLachlan’s concert is part of her “Summer Symphony Orchestra Tour” that gives audiences a more intimate experience by her performance with an orchestra.

According to the zoo’s website, the rest of the summer will bring other popular artists such as The Barenaked Ladies, Santana, Crosby, Stills and Nash and Train. Other performers include a group called The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue made up of Donald Fagen, Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs and a popular Nickelodeon preschool music group called The Fresh Beat Band.

So far The Fresh Beat Band and Santana concerts have nearly sold out, Norman said.

The Toledo Zoo works with Live Nation Entertainment to get the performers to come perform at the Toledo Zoo Amphitheater.

Carrie Samek, marketing director for Live Nation, said the company has worked with the zoo for 10 years to schedule performances.

“It’s a big location because it’s right in between Detroit and Cleveland so when performers are in the area it works out for them to stop in Toledo,” Samek said.

Live Nation works to build relationships with the performers so when they’re in the area they can work the Toledo venue into their schedule as well, Samek said.

“We like to offer a variety of different events at the zoo to appeal to a wide variety of people,” Norman said. “I think most people picture a mother with children under the age of 12 coming to zoo, but we do a lot of different things for a wider range of people and the summer concerts is an example of that.”

Not only does the Amphitheater provide a great venue for performers and the audience, but it also has historical significance that keeps people interested in seeing concerts there, Norman said.

“The Amphitheater was built by the WPA, which is the Works Progress Administration, during the Great Depression to give people jobs,” Norman said. “It’s very unique because of that history and just because it’s located in a zoo.”

The zoo started hosting rock concerts and more popular music concerts in 1987 when it had a total of two concerts during that summer, however, the Amphitheater has hosted Music Under the Stars with the Toledo Symphony concert band for more than 60 years, Norman said.

The concerts are free and will start July 8, taking place each Sunday at 7:30 p.m. until Aug. 12, Norman said.

“I think people really enjoy coming here,” she said. “People enjoy going to concerts outdoors in the summer and the Amphitheater is a great venue for that.”

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