By Brian Blair, The Republic

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   One of Columbus' longest-running annual concerts has played its last note. 

    Leaders of Salin Bank, which launched Popfest nearly 30 years ago with Columbus Pro Musica, said in a recent letter sent to participants that economic conditions forced the move. 

    Bank officials did not return calls about the matter. 

    The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra headlined the gathering, which became a summertime favorite. 

    More than 10 years ago, the bank was spending more than $30,000 on the event, with most of that going toward the orchestra, according to a Republic story. Because of Salin's support, the event was free. 

    The concert, begun in 1980, annually drew an estimated 7,000 people to Bartholomew County Public Library plaza to see the Columbus City Band and the Indianapolis Symphony perform, fittingly, a pops concert. 

    "It's a way for Columbus Bank to repay the community," said Salin Bank President Linda Behrman in a Republic interview years ago. 

    The event drew as many as 2,000 at lunchtime in recent years to hear local high school jazz bands. Before that, the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic performed. 

    Beth Booth Poor, who chaired the event for 26 years, acknowledged she was saddened to hear recently about the end. 

    "It always has been an honor and a joy to work with all the people from the bank," said Poor. 

    She added that one of the best memories for her will be "seeing how much the audiences enjoyed it." 

    Philharmonic Executive Director Alice Curry said she's disappointed to hear the news. But she understands how the tough financial times have affected the arts. 

    "We are losing what has become an institution," said Curry, who moved here with family after her ex-husband was so impressed with Popfest after a job interview. "It's always been a favorite time for family and friends." 

    Steve McGrew, conductor of the Columbus City Band, said he's still optimistic, even after reading the bank's letter about the end, that something on a smaller scale can be organized as a summer musical event. 

    "We're still keeping the date open," he said.

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