Picture this: It’s a warm midsummer evening in South Bend’s Potawatomi Park. To the west, the sun sets slowly in a glow of orange; the shadows of the oak trees are lengthening. You’re comfortably seated on a blanket on the grass, or perhaps you’ve brought a lawn chair. There’s a picnic dinner in front of you, and you’re chatting with friends, or a date, or your children. Maybe you’ve even brought your dog.

Just a stone’s throw away, the South Bend Symphony Orchestra warms up on the stage of the Chris Wilson Pavilion. Or it might be a big band, checking sound with the opening measures of “Whatever Lola Wants.” Or it’s Notre Dame’s Young Company, taking places for one of Shakespeare’s comedies.

You haven’t bought a ticket because you don’t need one. This show is free, part of a series that showcases our community’s best performing artists. All around you are friends, neighbors, and area visitors, people like you who love to experience the arts in the open air.

You’re at the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County’s Performing Arts Series, held Saturday nights in late July and August in Potawatomi Park.

And you’re having a wonderful time.