THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
19th May, 2016 0
Since its inaugural festival back in 2005 on the beach at Sanford State Park, Parkapalooza has defined a unique niche over the past decade for delivering a varied array of top-notch regional musical entertainment packaged with activities to engage the entire family, while also raising money to cultivate young up-and-coming musicians that may not possess the economic resources to advance their talents.
A creation of the D-Street Music Foundation, last year Parkapalooza expanded their reach with an inaugural festival held at Bay City’s Wenonah Park; and this year the stage is set and excitement rapidly building for the 2nd Annual Parkapalooza Bay City Music Festival, which will be held on Sunday, June 5th from 12:00 noon – 8:00 PM.
The buzz for this ambitious musical showcase has never been higher, especially insofar as this year Parkapalooza managed to beat out some stiff competition at the 30th Annual Review Music Awards and win a pair of significant honors, securing the popular vote as ‘Best Festival’ and ‘Best Live Event of the Year’.
“You could have knocked me over with a feather,” remarks festival co-founder Ed Kerns about his reaction when he heard Parkapalooza was selected by the general public for these two prized honors. “We didn’t campaign for it, which makes it particularly gratifying, especially insofar as I sometimes think these festivals we do, particularly the Sanford festival, is so mainstream that it sometimes cuts us out of a lot of the Arts type awards, considering most of the bands we feature are cover bands and we literally strive to stage these events for everybody, from little kids up to grandpas and grandmas.”
But despite his astonishment, what the selection does prove is that Parkapalooza has secured a very broad base of support throughout the region, which Kerns agrees is certainly the primary goal of D-Street. “Our goal is to bring music to everybody, so yeah – winning these top divisions this year was a wonderful surprise.”
“I believe we achieved the goals set in Bay City at the inaugural event last year, and went into it back then with eyes wide open,” notes Kerns. “In a way we were kind of stupid when we started the Sanford festivals, because we had no experience with it. But Bay City is a festival city, so that fact made it a logical choice when trying to expand the franchise a little bit. There is a ton of competition on the festival circuit in this region and everybody is competing on some level with everything else going on, but one thing we strive to do with Parkapalooza is make it as encompassing an experience as we can.”
Certainly the line-up for this year’s 2nd annual Wenonah Park event is indeed that, consisting of headliners The Hipakritz and Tweed & Dixie, whom also won honors at this year’s Review Music Awards for ‘Best Rock Band’ and ‘Best Country Band’ respectively. Additional performances will be provided by Sins in Stereo, Soul Xpress, The Robertson Brothers Band, Brody & the Busch Rd Trio, Marsupial Creampie, and Civil Infraction, who kick off the festival at high noon on June 5th.
“We have some wonderful music lined up, so it’s poised to be a great weekend,” adds Kerns. “Bay City lived up to what we were looking to do last year and in the first year we had approximately 1,200 people attending the inaugural festival. A lot of activity wound up concentrating in the activity area, in addition to people watching the bands perform; so folks are coming to this event for all reasons. Another great thing about Bay City is that Wenonah Park is in the center of a commerce area, so you get a lot of people wandering by, whereas Sanford is more of a destination point.”
The itinerary of free activities this year is equally as varied as the musical line-up, and will include an Antique Firehouse & Toy Museum, a Woodcrafting Workshop for kids sponsored by Home Depot that allows kids to make and take home their creations, and a chance for patrons to grab some cash in The Money Vault, which is a new activity for this year’s festival.
“Years ago when we did an event called Rock This Country, one of the things we did to break the air between performances was to set up this big inflatable with one dollar and five dollar bills inside, and then raffle opportunities for people to grab some cash. It’s really as much fun to watch as it is to participate,” notes Ed. “Bay Lanes is also offering us an Outdoor Bowling Lane, so we’ll be doing ‘Bowling for Kazoos’ and we’ll also have a Pirate Ship Bounce House provided by the Bay Area Family YMCA.”
Despite the fact that Parkapalooza Bay City is a free event, one of the significant objectives behind the festival is to raise money for D-Street’s Bandwagon & Scholarship Programs, which provide assistance to disadvantage but talented young students to purchase instruments they may not be able to otherwise afford; and also foster their educational opportunities within the musical arts.
Indeed, Ed estimates that with each festival approximately $5,000 is raised and thus far, since the inception of the Sanford festival 11 years ago, approximately $60,000-$70,000 has been raised for these purposes. “We get applications all the time for instrument loans and scholarships,” continues Ed, “and will actually be presenting a scholarship winner at this year’s Bay City event. Unfortunately, we have a lot of expenses associated with each festival, but considering that our only goal was to have a party on the beach when we started, we aren’t doing too badly.”
“Doing the first festival out of the box last year was kind of a hard sell and always a leap of faith for people to sign on, but this year I believe we’ll do a little better,” he reflects. “Now that we have a track record established from last year, we’ve been fortunate to secure some significant sponsors. Labadie stood up this year as our main sponsor and we also have Chemical Bank, MIG, Wildfire Credit Union, The Home Depot and Bay City Mall all behind us, without who’s support this festival would not be possible.”
“We aren’t reinventing the wheel, but we do try to refine what we do all the time,” concludes Ed. “The important thing about this festival is the music, which is at the core of things. We can’t let an opportunity go by without thanking all the bands. These aren’t your typical garage bands and each of them give their time and talent to this event, which is the way musicians tend to be. If we can help them out at D-Street we certainly will.”
Additionally, anybody interested in serving on the D-Street Music Foundation Board of Directors are urged to contact the group through their website at DStreet.org. “We’re always looking for new members,” emphasizes Ed, “and currently have a couple board seats opening. Members do not have to be musicians. Plus, we are always looking for people to become Friends of D-Street if they are interested in helping with the many events we stage. Catholic Family Credit Union gifted us with a Community Outreach Stage so we can deliver music to the greater Tri-City region.”
“We conduct little concerts across the region where we’ll locate the stage and find a band to do an hour or two concert for people unable to hear live music otherwise. This is part of what our mission is – to get live music out there before the entire region.”
“Personally for me, nothing compares to listening to music with all its warts, blemishes, and pleasures from a live stage.”
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THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)