In 1985, under the direction of Upper Merion Township recreation director David Broida, a summer concert series was started. In the beginning, three concerts played to about 400 people each from a mobile stage at the Upper Merion Cultural Center on Moore Road. An earlier attempt for a folk series in 1977 wasn’t successful with only 50 people showing up.
By 1990, admission increased from $1 to $3 and the concerts were held at Upper Merion Township Building Park. Money was included in the annual budget. The township sponsored the Summer Folk Concerts under the stars at a cost of $10,000. A total of $3,400 in grants was received from the Philadelphia Folksong Society, Montgomery County Foundation, Meridian Bank, Main Line Federal Savings Bank and Bell of Pennsylvania. The township estimated that it would earn $6,600 from concert admissions.
According to a 1997 Inquirer article, “U. Merion pop series bring folks together,” the relaxed atmosphere was a major draw. Concerts by then averaged close to 3,000 fans each. Coolers and picnicking were encouraged and parents seemed to feel safe letting their children run amok. The series blended ‘60s folk-music culture with ‘90s family culture, where free love is maternal instead of sexual, grass is sat upon and not smoked, and parking lots resemble minivan showrooms. One Sunday, when it was announced that a Ford minivan was illegally parked, about 500 people jumped up to claim it.
Recent additions to the venue helped make the series more appealing to its neighbors. Most notable was the 10-acre field adjacent to the site that a nearby homeowner began donating the year prior  for parking on concert nights. In addition, parking restrictions were posted on all side streets around the site. Those changes helped ease parking and traffic problems, which began to escalate with the series’ growing popularity around 1990. On July 4, 1997, the gazebo stage was donated by Arthur L. and Lea Powell, principal owners of the King of Prussia mall complex.
Musicians seemed to appreciate the setting as much as the fans. Keith Grimwood, bassist for the popular folk duo Trout Fishing In America said the venue was one of his favorites. The feeling appeared mutual, as fans had made the duo the series’ biggest draw by far in recent years. “This is our fourth time here, and it’s been real nice for us,” Grimwood said, taking a break after the matinee performance. “I mean, we had played folk festivals with a lot of people out there, but they were there for a bunch of bands. By the second time we played here, there was this sea of people out there, and all of them had come to see us. This place, there’s dedication here.”
Sue Eskinazi, membership outreach coordinator for the Philadelphia Folksong Society, called the concert fare “people music” that attracts all ages. “This is a wonderful location, and we always seem to see children here,” she said. “It’s helping folk become quite popular again.”
By 2000, a variety of musical performers for all ages were scheduled every Sunday throughout the summer. Tickets were $6 for adults, children 16 and under and adults 62 and older were free. Series organizer, David Broida said in another Inquirer article “The music is the glue, and the people are the substance. It’s a very family-friendly event. For $12 you can bring a family of four, you can’t even go out to a movie for that much. Families can bring a picnic basket and a blanket, and listen to some nice music. It’s a nice way to relax on a Sunday night.”
On June 2, the Concert Under the Stars series kicked off for the 35th time — with Trout Fishing in America returning on August 4. Due to corporate sponsorships, the event is free and there are food vendors and a beer garden for purchase.