ST. CHARLES – Music lovers had a chance to indulge in some country and bluegrass tunes Saturday in St. Charles while helping three local charitable organizations and paying tribute to veterans.
The third annual concert held at the Arcada Theatre raised money for the St. Charles Noon Rotary Club and the River Corridor Foundation of St. Charles. And for the first time, the concert benefited the Operation Finally Home organization and saluted veterans.
Bob Brown, president of the St. Charles Noon Rotary Club, said the first year of the concert drew 600 attendees and the second year drew almost 900 people. This year, they offered an afternoon concert that drew about 400 people, according to Arcada personnel, along with a second concert at 7 p.m. Brown said he hoped to exceed the more than $30,000 they helped raise last year for the organizations.
The Rotary Club in the last five years has given $73,000 in local scholarships and $43,000 in local charitable giving efforts, Brown said.
He said he was excited to partner with a new organization this year – Operation Finally Home – which is helping build homes for wounded service members and their families in the St. Charles area.
And, with Veterans Day around the corner, the concert honored veterans, and military men and women. Special guest Wally Guzy, 97, a World War II veteran who was in the 90th Army Infantry Division and fought during the D-Day Normandy invasion, led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. Brown said special guest John Wredling, a World War II veteran who served in the Army Air Corps, also was supposed to be in attendance, but wasn't feeling well.
An opening act was also a new addition to this year's concert. Billy Croft & the 5 Alarm opened for the Henhouse Prowlers, which performed the last two years. Singer and guitar player Billy Croft, a Naperville firefighter who lives in St. Charles, said he and his band members were glad to be a part of the benefit concert for the first time and help raise funds for the nonprofits.
"They do a lot of good things for the community, and as a fireman, that fits in with what we do," he said.
John Rabchuk, treasurer for the River Corridor Foundation of St. Charles, said the concert is one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for the organization, which helps maintain and improve walkways and bike paths along the Fox River corridor.
Rabchuk said members of the organization hope to use the money raised to implement some ideas they've culled from other cities across the country that surround rivers. He said the idea for the annual concert started with the Rev. Al Patten, a minister at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church in St. Charles, who was a "bluegrass aficionado," and was also a member of the River Corridor Foundation and Rotary Club.
"[The concert] has always been at the Arcada," he said. "It's a great way to showcase St. Charles."