Lack of manpower won't prevent SummerFest, KidsFest
By Katelyn Gendron
Reminder Assistant Editor
AGAWAM -- The Agawam Cultural Council (ACC) lacked the necessary manpower this year to host SummerFest, its signature event series of the season, but as it has been said many times before: the show must go on.
Christopher Sparks, director of the Parks and Recreation Department, stepped in for the ACC this year, spearheading not only KidsFest but SummerFest as well. SummerFest boasts seven concerts this season, six of which are new to the series and KidsFest will entertain children and families on three occasions.
"I'm very pleased with what Chris has done [taking over this year]," Bob Kadis, chair of the ACC, said. "My major concern is that it gets done [and SummerFest continues]."
Kadis explained that the ACC will maintain a presence at SummerFest with its annual raffle and sales. The ACC also made a donation to the cause, he added.
"The concerts have already shown community spirit and it's really something that we didn't want to see fall by the wayside. Especially in this economy, people need affordable [in this case, free] entertainment," Sparks said, adding that audiences total 1,000 people on a slow night.
"The goal of SummerFest was to introduce the community to new and different kinds of music," he continued.
Cory and the Knightsmen, a classic rock band will kick off SummerFest on July 8 and magician Scott Jameson will headline the first KidsFest performance on July 15.
Bandleader Cory DeGray of Cory and the Knightsmen said the audience can expect a Johnny Cash medley and songs by Jimmy Buffett and Elvis.
"We really try to have variety," he said. "I've been doing this for 42 years ... it's what I do best and what I really like doing and the rest of the band is the same way. None of us need the money anymore; it's about the joy of entertaining."
Jameson said parents and kids should not expect a humdrum magic show at his performance.
"[The show] is a little more unique than just a regular magic show not like pulling rabbit out of hats . there's a lot of movement in the program beyond just tricks and juggling," he explained.
SummerFest concerts will take place at 7 p.m. on Veteran's Green, 689 Main St. In case of rain the event will take place in the Agawam High School Auditorium, 760 Cooper St. Changes of location due to rain will be announced on the Parks and Rec. Dept. answering machine 821-0514 after 3 p.m.
All KidsFest events will take place on the Veteran's Green at 11 a.m. but will be canceled in the event of rain.
The list of SummerFest concerts is as follows:
• July 8: Cory and the Knightsmen. Established in 1967 by bandleader Cory DeGray, the Knightsmen have been providing local establishments with rock 'n' roll music for over three decades.
• July 15: New York City musician Doug Ratner will open for Cool Shoes performing good old rock 'n' roll. Cool Shoes will cook up lip-smacking tunes to satisfy the soul including covers from James Brown, Etta James, Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles.
• July 22: Enter the Haggis, Toronto's Celtic rock band, will return to SummerFest as they teeter on the brink of mainstream success.
• July 29: Mamadou will perform world beats from West Africa to the Czech Republic to the United States.
• Aug. 5: Bill Shontz together with his duo of performers will take the stage synchronizing three-part harmonies, scat solos and lighthearted musicianship.
• Aug. 12: Nicole Frechette, an up and coming country music artist from southern Connecticut, will take the stage.
• Aug. 19: Dave Colucci will perform songs from greats such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Neil Diamond and Michael Buble.
The list of KidsFest events is as follows:
• July 15: Magician Scott Jameson will excite kids and families with his magic, juggling and theater routines.
• July 29: Les Julian will perform his award-winning original songs and illuminate universal themes of human life while celebrating diversity of the world through various musical styles.
• Aug. 12: The Airborne Comedians will perform their act which began 20 years ago as a snowball juggling contest in a laudromat and has since escalated to riding seven-foot unicycles and flaming lawn chair juggling.