Service projects help bookstore land free community concert
Singer, songwriter and musician John McCutcheon will be performing a free concert next year in Leavenworth, and it's all thanks to The Book Barn.
The free concert by McCutcheon, a five-time Emmy nominee, was the prize in a national contest for independent bookstores that had service projects most in keeping with the spirit of a new book and CD by McCutcheon. "Christmas in the Trenches," is based on the unofficial Christmas truce of World War I.
Barbara Spear, owner of The Book Barn, said she received word earlier this week from Peachtree Publishing in Atlanta that The Book Barn had won the contest.
"I've been on Cloud Nine ever since. I so wanted to be able to give this prize to our community," she said.
Judging criteria were originality, responsiveness to community needs and impact. The purpose was to encourage community activism by, and offer support to, independent bookstores by McCutcheon, who wrote and recorded the song, "Closing the Bookstore Down," in support of independent bookstores.
Spear's husband, Bob, the store's event coordinator, said he already had planned a Dec. 16 event built upon "Christmas in the Trenches" before he had even learned about the award. The store, Bob Spear said, has a history of offering programs featuring interesting learning experiences based in history.
In an e-mail to all of the contest entrants sent on Tuesday, Nov. 28, McCutcheon wrote:
"It was, indeed, heartwarming to see the creative, challenging entries that came in to Peachtree Publishing for the 'Christmas in the Trenches' contest. I only wish the participants in that first, audacious Christmas Truce could know of the deeds their actions inspired nearly 100 years later.
"Each of the entries reached across some of the frozen fields that divide us by race, class, immigration status, ethnicity, age. : Whether battling to keep a library in the struggling downtown area of a small North Carolina town or bringing together Chamber of Commerce members reading to low-income students in Arkansas schools or bridging the immigrant and native communities in New York or Kansas, each sought to surprise participants by finding ways to show that we are more similar than any of us imagine.
"In the end, the Book Barn in Leavenworth, KS told their story of weaving together projects teaching their local history (from the Nez Perce to the Underground Railroad to the Civil War to WWII) with the needs of local military families (from here and abroad) and a local VA hospital. This proved the 'winning' entry."
The concert by McCutcheon, a folk singer who has recorded 29 albums and appeared on Public Radio's "A Prairie Home Companion" and "All Things Considered," "CBS Evening News" and CNN is likely to be either April 11 or April 16.
Barbara Spear said details of the concert still needed to be worked out.
"These are the two dates he told the publishers he had available," she said. "It could be something completely different."
The venue for the concert also had yet to be determined, but Barbara Spear said she hoped it could be somewhere that would accommodate a large crowd.
"It'd be nice to have it somewhere for our whole community," she said, noting the support the store has received from area schools, libraries and businesses.
The Book Barn is at 410 Delaware St. in Leavenworth.