First music fest drums up support

Hundreds got in the groove at Sand Creek Park when the July 19 Rum River Music Fest was staged at the Coon Rapids location.

An estimated 2,000 people attended the inaugural event, which featured Austin Healy, Swag and GB Leighton and benefits HOPE 4 Youth, a resource center for Anoka County’s homeless youth.

Swag took the stage and entertained the crowd before GB Leighton performed for an audience assembled for the July 19 Rum River Music Fest. Austin Healy also performed during the benefit for HOPE 4 Youth. Photo by Sue Austreng

Swag took the stage and entertained the crowd before GB Leighton performed for an audience assembled for the July 19 Rum River Music Fest. Austin Healy also performed during the benefit for HOPE 4 Youth. Photo by Sue Austreng

With ticket sales, T-shirts, souvenir bracelets, food and beverages, an estimated $40,000 was raised during the festival, according to Matt Fischer, HOPE 4 Youth volunteer and Rum River Music Fest event chairman.

“And we’re still counting,” Fischer said earlier this week, reporting that final numbers are still being tallied.

“We’ve had a lot of positive response from the bands, from volunteers, from sponsors. Everyone is very, very pleased,” Fischer said.

Karrie Schaaf, homeless youth and families liaison for Anoka-Hennepin School District, echoed Fischer’s report.

“There’s been just amazing feedback. GB Leighton was absolutely fabulous to work with, he has such energy, such passion – he even got down into the crowd, talked to people, posed for pictures. He was just fabulous,” Schaaf said, adding that all the bands said they’d like to come back and perform during the 2015 Rum River Music Fest.

Folks traveled to Sand Creek from as far away as Lindstrom, Forest Lake, Big Lake, Stacy and beyond as well as from many points inside Anoka County.

“I saw this on the GB Leighton website and thought (HOPE 4 Youth) is a good cause, so we came out,” said Jolene Crofood, who with her husband Dan came to the fest from Big Lake.

Kris Gale, Sand Creek Elementary School kindergarten teacher, brought a friend for the fest and said, “It’s really a feel-good thing because it’s for our community. We (at the elementary school) do so much for HOPE 4 Youth and I wanted to come out here because it is for HOPE 4 Youth. Anytime we can give back to the community I’m all for it,” she said.

Angela Ogle, Maplewood, Teresa Summerbell, Andover, and Cassie Erickson, Ham Lake, and hundreds more wait for Swag to take the stage during the Rum River Music Fest staged at Sand Creek Park July 19 as a fund-raiser for HOPE 4 Youth. Photo by Sue Austreng

Angela Ogle, Maplewood, Teresa Summerbell, Andover, and Cassie Erickson, Ham Lake, and hundreds more wait for Swag to take the stage during the Rum River Music Fest staged at Sand Creek Park July 19 as a fund-raiser for HOPE 4 Youth. Photo by Sue Austreng

Organizers said the 2014 Rum River Music Fest was planned in just five months and talk has already started for the 2015 Rum River Music Fest.

“This is just awesome, a really great turn-out, a really wonderful mix of people out here … The bands were all great … Now we have a full year to get next year’s off the ground,” said John Sitarz, fund-raising and marketing chairman for HOPE 4 Youth.

HOPE 4 Youth

The HOPE 4 Youth drop-in center (located in suite 40 at 2665 Fourth Ave. N, Anoka) exists to serve youth experiencing homelessness in Anoka County.

According to Schaaf, the latest numbers show 820 young people (age birth to 21 years old) are experiencing homelessness in Anoka-Hennepin School District as of April 2014.

Homeless youth are served at HOPE 4 Youth 2-7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The following free services are offered during those hours: drop-in center, hot meals, snacks and refreshments, showers, hygiene products, a clothing closet, food shelf, housing services, education resources, job search, and computer access.

Although an overnight shelter is not currently provided for homeless youth in Anoka County, Fischer said HOPE 4 Youth leaders are “looking at renovating an existing building in Coon Rapids” to be used in that capacity.

Fischer said that “100 percent of the money raised (with the Rum River Music Fest) goes to HOPE 4 Youth and that’s our next objective.”

“To afford the place itself and the operation of the place with 24-hour staff, that’s what this money will go towards,” Fischer said.

To learn more about HOPE 4 Youth, to see volunteer opportunities, and for the current donation list call 763-323-2066, email info@hope4youthmn.org, or visit hope4youthmn.org.

Sue Austreng is at sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

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