The History of “Acker Night”
Keeping the Music alive
Mr. Acker first relocated to Prescott, Arizona in the early 1900's.
As a proprietor of a general store he provided a variety of products along with school and music supplies for the children. After a short absence Mr. Acker returned to Prescott in the 1930's and then operated a real estate company. During that time, he began accumulating parcels of property around the community. When Mr. Acker died in 1955, he left a number of those parcels of land to the City of Prescott, to be used for parks and music programs for children. Click here to Find out more about Mr. J S Acker
In 1988 Prescott resident LaVon Anderson who was a strong advocate of children's music program herself, had a dream to mesh music and Prescott's historic downtown together in a memorable event.
Music and the Christmas holidays was a natural pairing and she used that marriage to spearhead the J.S. Acker Musical Showcase in December 1988. The J.S. Acker Musical Showcase was quick to take off. The December event now features over 100 Prescott downtown businesses with over 100 musicians and performers
donating their time, talent and businesses for this event.
Harold Wise moved to Prescott in 1985 and soon opened a Store on Prescott's historic Whiskey Row. In 1987 Mr. Wise was elected President of the DPA ( Downtown Prescott Association) which went on to become the Prescott Downtown Partnership. During Mr. Wise's tenure as President he was responsible for revitalizing the DPA and the Downtown area. The hiring of an executive Director was just the start. He started many of the events that are still going strong today. One of those events was the Acker night musical festival. LaVon Anderson came to him to discuss the idea of having a musical showcase in local downtown stores.
Mr Wise met with her multiple times and they discussed how best to achieve this wonderful idea. Until he became involved with the local businesses they had been hesitant for a multitude of reasons. Mr. Wise invited Mrs Anderson to the DPA meetings and encouraged her to present the ideas they had talked about to the board. Mr Wise was able to convince local Business owners that this would be a wonderful event for Prescott and their individual Businesses. In December 1988 Acker Night Musical festival was born. The first year was slow going but with Mrs Anderson's passion and drive and Mr Wise's dedication it has grown ever since. It should also be noted that Gov Mofford named Prescott "Arizona's official Christmas City" by proclamation. Mr Wise and the DPA took on the task of lighting the businesses around the Square
In the spring of 1991, Marion Smith of Prescott read an interesting article in the Daily Courier about a diver entering Acker Park Reservoir. It went on to describe Mr. Acker’s legacy to the city and the creation of a new non-profit organization, the J.S.Acker Music Park Association. Marion’s curiosity had been aroused.
At the suggestion of working with Attorney and executor of the Acker Estate, David Palmer, Marion contacted Mrs. LaVon Anderson whose enthusiasm and passion for carrying on Mr. Acker’s original intentions was infectious. LaVon had concerns about the downtown business area’s growth. Marion had a strong interest in promoting performing artists. The two were combined to create the Musical Showcase which has evolved to today’s Acker Night.
From 8 performers in 8 shops in 1988 to over 100 performers in over 100 shops today, Acker Night has become one of Prescott’s most beloved events. During Marion’s tenure the committee expanded to handle the demands of rapid growth. The colorful Tip Bag program supporting scholarships for our community’s youth was introduced enabling a dramatic increase in funding for the existing scholarship plan.
Marion’s retirement in 2012 was remembered with years of joy and wonderful friendships. "And I still like and think it is/ was a lot of crazy fun"! We miss her contributions and spirit.
Here at Acker Night we would like to say thanks to Cindy DeFiore for 20 years of keeping Acker Night and the Music alive. Cindy retired in (2013) from the Acker Committee but still helps us on many levels and we appreciate everything that she has and continues to do to make this an Event to remember!!!
We Love You Cindy