Music festival supports youth outreach group
People who will be at Tonganoxie VFW Park on Saturday probably will have a case of the blues.
But Mona Kerns hopes, in this instance, it will be a good thing.
Kerns, president of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Leavenworth County, has organized the inaugural Bigs, Blues and BBQ, set for Saturday at VFW Park. The event will run from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., with six area bands taking the stage throughout the day.
Bum Steer Catering in Lawrence will provide the barbecue portion of the event. Amy's Meats of Lawrence, meanwhile, is donating the meat that Bum Steer will prepare for the event.
Other businesses and organizations to make donations to the event are First State Bank and Trust, JF Productions, Reilly and Sons, Explorer's Music, Tonganoxie VFW Post 9271, Hallmark and Professional Sound Services.
According to Meg Hooper, northeast Kansas public relations specialist for Big Brothers Big Sisters, that's a rarity to have all aspects of an event monetarily covered.
"I'm just so amazed; it's so rare that it happens," Hooper said. "It makes me feel like the community is really backing us. We've had so many organizations and businesses come through."
Kerns, who has been involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters since 2005 when she first became a "Big," said there were two factors that motivated her idea.
"The need for money to make matches and just there's never been anything like it in the area," Kerns said. "And it was a good opportunity to try something new."
The event will kick off at 1 p.m. with Fast Johnny Ricker, which includes rural Tonganoxie resident and front man Johnny Ricker. Other bands scheduled to perform are The Adam Wyatt Group, The Jeff Lux Duo, Lonnie Ray Blues Band, Blue 88 and Shannon and the Rhythm Kings.
Kerns got the ball rolling by contacting Sue Corbitt from Mission. A member of Blue 88, Corbitt then contacted other blues bands that do various benefits and suddenly, Kerns had an impressive lineup for the one-day music festival.
Kerns said the bands were "overwhelmingly responsive."
"And they offered so much," Kerns said.
Tickets for the event are $15 in advance or $20 at the gate. Youths ages 14 and younger will be admitted free if accompanied by an adult.
Kerns said the organization planned to make the festival an annual event. And, it's possible a barbecue contest will be added to the festivities next year.
The bottom line though for Kerns, who will become development director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Leavenworth County on Monday, is matching area adults to youths in the county.
She said there were 30 active matches in the county, four of which are boys to male adult mentors.
Currently, however, there are 35 youths waiting to be matched. Of those, Kerns said, about 75 percent, or 26 youths, are boys.
That means adult male figures are needed in the area.
"There's a huge, huge need for male volunteers," Kerns said.
And through fundraisers such as Saturday's festival, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Leavenworth County can help fund expenses associated with matching adults to youths, such as elaborate background checks on the potential "Bigs."
"It's quite extensive and costs a lot of money, but it's to protect everyone involved," Kerns said.
For more information about the event or the organization, contact Big Brothers Big Sisters of Leavenworth County, 521B N. Seventh St., Leavenworth 66048; (913) 651-2600.
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