The Dallas Arboretum’s newest concert series attempts to woo the young and restless

Attracting millennials to a Dallas venue is akin to coaxing hummingbirds into your yard: It requires intricate planning, and you still have to get lucky.

So when the Dallas Arboretum got lucky with a one-off event last summer, it decided to repeat the formula this summer and hope it works just as well.

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“That’s everybody’s challenge in an organization — a younger generation,” says Terry Lendecker, the arboretum’s vice president of advertising and promotions.

The winning formula last July was to invite local musicians and let them perform intimate sets in several spots throughout the gardens. The food trucks, BYO picnics and beverages, and an affordable $7 entry fee on a Friday night didn’t hurt, but the millennial surge likely came from the musicians’ social media promotion of the event, Lendecker says.

Neighborhood musicians Salim Nourallah, John Lefler and Camille Cortinas each have an extensive local following, and it’s safe to assume their following trends young. Lefler and Cortinas will return this summer for what the Arboretum is calling “Garden Gigs,” which take place every Friday night this month.

These mini concerts don’t replace the cover bands who headline the Arboretum’s amphitheater stage in late spring, early summer and fall. Those shows, which pay tribute to such stars as the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson and the Beatles, tend to appeal to a more mature demographic.

The arboretum pictures itself as a venue for all ages — “womb to tomb,” Lendecker says, “everyone from grandmothers to grandkids.” Its Mommy & Me Mondays and Tiny Tot Tuesdays act as a point of entry for young parents. But young professionals, “they go where the hottest thing is,” Lendecker says. “That’s hard to keep up with, it really is.”

It’s not the only organization in Dallas throwing things at walls to see what sticks. The Dallas Holocaust Museum, for example, offered special millennial admission prices and millennial-only events in June in hopes of educating a younger generation.

Outdoor concerts, which “Dallas does really well,” Lendecker says, are fairly popular with this demographic. The Dallas Zoo hosts summer concerts, as does the Dallas Museum of Art. “Everybody’s doing it,” Lendecker says, but the Arboretum has one strong advantage.

“We’re at the lake,” she says. “That’s hard to compete with.”