Parkapalooza: Six Years of Bringing Together Talent, Sunshine & Civic Mindedness Into the Perfect End of Summer Celebration

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Local Music, Concert Reviews,   From Issue 709   By: Robert E Martin

12th August, 2010     0

Since its inceptions six years ago, the annual Parkapalooza Music Festival at Sanford Lake Park has turned into the perfect synthesis of talent, sunshine, and community, bringing together elements of music, natural splendor, and civic-mindedness into one of the finest ‘end-of-summer’ celebrations to be found in Michigan.

This year Parkapalooza 6 will be held on Sunday, September 12th and run from high noon to 8:00 PM.  A key fundraiser of the DStreet Entertainment Foundation, eight exceptional bands will be featured along with a divergent array of family activities scheduled throughout the day. With free admission to the Park by foot, bicycle or boat, if you bring a vehicle into the park there is a $5.00 fee.

As Parkapalooza has grown throughout the years, bringing thousands of people into play while supporting a fitting array of community organizations, we hooked-up with D-Street President Dennis Beson (also front-man for the ever-popular Sinclairs) to glean his impressions upon the significance of Parkapalooza over the years, while finding out what surprises are in store for 2010.

Review: How many years has Parkapalooza been going now and did you ever think it would evolve into such a supported and pivotal event as it has managed to become back when the idea for staging it first surfaced? 

Dennis Beson: This will be our 6th year and I have been on the board now as President for 4 of the 6 years.  It was really two guys that saw the vision of this event, Dave Dauer and Ed Kerns.   Dave Dauer was the originator for Dstreet who wanted to bring an event to the community and met up with Ed Kerns who works for Midland County Parks and the idea was formed.   I don't believe any of us envisioned having 5000 plus people going through the park as we have had over the last two years.   When Ed asked if The Sinclairs would play the first year I thought,  "Music on the beach?"  Yet it has turned out to be the perfect place for a great concert.

Review:  Please tell me about this year's line-up, not only in terms of bands & entertainment, but also whatever family activities you have organized.  Are there are any new bands or faces in the line-up?

Beson: This year we have 8 great bands, some of them old favorites that have been there before, but we have 4 bands that are brand new or almost new.   Jodi Sasse and South'rn Cross will kick things off at noon, Triple Play, which is a local Sanford band, will make their second appearance at the Festival at 1 PM; The Rock Show (6PM)  and The Hipakritz (2PM)  will make their debut this year.  Mandi Layne & The Lost Highway (3 PM) will also be making their second appearance.   The Sinclairs Band (4 PM) , Steel Wheels (5 PM), and Jedi Mind Trip (7 PM) are the veterans of Palooza and continue to be fan favorites.

As far as family activities this year like other years we will be having a sand sculpting contest, The Rock climbing wall, Home Depot kids project building, West and North Midland Family Centers will have a complete kid area including inflatable play area's.   Plus Sanford Lake Park now has one of the premier Splash Parks in the entire tri-county area.

For adults we do have our silent auction again this year as well as some great food venders will be in the park selling great food items.

Review: How much money has D-Street raised for charities over the years and what do you feel is the core purpose for holding Parkapalooza? 

Beson: The core purpose of Parkapalooza is to bring a low or no cost concert to the community and benefit the advancement of both music and musicianship.    Dstreet is a 501-3C Non Profit in itself.  We donate money to other causes but we also use Parkapalooza as our main fundraiser each year.  

Our first two years we helped the Sanford Eagles Club raise about $2000 each year.  In the past three years we have chosen a charity to benefit a portion of the proceeds.   One year we donated approximately $1200 to Adopt a Childs Smile (Helping low income children to receive dental care).  The next year we teamed up with Disability Network to donate approximately $1200.   Last year after the Midland Country Parks system was hit hard with budget cutbacks we donated $2000 to the Sanford Lake Park specifically for all the great work they do for us each year to help keep that park going.  

Dstreet uses the profits for programs such as "The Bandwagon" program, which buys, rents, or renovates donated instruments to be available in an instrument library of sorts for economically challenged families.   We also have started a scholarship fund this year and will be giving away our first $1000 scholarship to a music minded high school senior to attend the next level of education whether that be college or trade school.

We purchased a portable stage last year that is available for other non-profit groups to use for events they are putting on, especially if the city stage is unavailable.

Review: Interesting. You may want to contact Saginaw’s PRIDE about that stage, now that the City liquidated theirs for dimes on the dollar.

So what do you feel is the most challenging component involved with staging this even annually? 

Beson: We have been very fortunate to have some great sponsors for this year and the past three.   We couldn't have done it without Farm Bureau Insurance, MidMichigan Health, The Great Lakes Loons, FP Horak, Covenant Health the last two years, Chemical Bank, Home Depot, and all the other great sponsors.  

As far as challenges go I think after the first few years of just getting the outline figured out as to what and where and how to get the big stage trailer on the beach it has been pretty smooth.   How awesome is it that 8 great bands give up their time on a Sunday to be apart of our event?  The event has become so successful that we now have a waiting list of bands and some hard feelings when we don't pick a certain band. 

Review:  Are there any highlights or 'standout' moments for you that seem to epitomize what the significance of this even represents within our community? 

Beson: I think what stands out the most to me is when Ed Kerns will tell me that people coming to Sanford Lake Park in the very early months of the summer ask when Palooza is and who will be playing.   Months before the event people are making plans to be there.   Last year we actually filled the parking lot up within the first two hours of the event.   This year we have made a deal with St. Agnes Catholic Church to use their parking lot as an auxillary lot.    


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