La Plata looks to raise funds for music, art with Rocktoberfest
Charles County residents are getting ready to rock out at this year’s third annual Rocktoberfest, a cause near and dear to the La Plata Business Association.
Rocktoberfest will take place at Casey Jones Restaurant and Bar in La Plata on Saturday, Oct. 1, from 1 to 10 p.m. Admission is $5, the minimum donation allowed for entry, with the proceeds donated to the Charles County Public Schools’ fine and performing arts departments to help less fortunate students participate.
“Our third annual Rocktoberfest is the biggest yet,” said Keith Grasso, president of the La Plata Business Association, which is hosting the event. “Last year we had several thousand people out on the street and coming to our event. A lot of bands, fans and good times. We raised $10,000 to donate to the Charles County music and arts program last year and we hope to double that this year.”
Tim Bodamer, content specialist for the fine and performing arts at the Charles County Board of Education, said the donations received from Rocktoberfest have helped the music and arts department bring in clinicians to work with music students, purchase new frames to display paintings at the Charles County Government Building, purchase new tools for theater departments, and accomplish new projects for each of the departments.
“Rocktoberfest has been beneficial to the music and arts program,” Bodamer said. “The price is right, there’s a lot of good music from some local bands and musicians, great family activities and North Point High School Jazz Band will be performing as well. The arts are expensive. Instruments alone can cost thousands of dollars. But our goal is that every child can participate, regardless of their financial status.”
“The CCPS music and arts program is close to my heart,” Grasso said. “I would not be here today had I not been involved in music growing up. I think from the business stance it’s important to give back to the community and particularly something such as your school system and the kids involved in arts and music. It’s a way to show our support as a business community.”
According to Grasso, this year’s event will feature performances by 16 bands. Artists will include the Paul Reed Smith Band, Franklin Square Band and Random Impact Band. Jimmie’s Chicken Shack will headline the event with others playing all day. Rocktoberfest will have three stages this year: two outdoors and one stage inside Casey Jones to double the number of bands this year.
“The event originally came about to brand La Plata’s main street, Charles Street, as a community,” Grasso said. “Most towns that have a main street going through the town [have] a town event that people look forward to in the area. That’s what Rocktoberfest is for La Plata. It’s our town having an event that brings people to it and recognizes our local businesses and restaurants.”
This year, the association is drawing in crowds with an additional street market featuring a variety of local vendors, an Allstate Insurance Kids Zone with a moon bounce, face painting by the La Plata High School Art Honor Society, as well as food and drinks available from Casey Jones and food trucks. The association has also partnered with Uber this year to help get people home safely.
Visitors can also purchase a $10 raffle ticket for a chance to win a Paul Reed Smith Santana SE guitar with a free lesson from Island Music. The guitar is valued at $1,200 — and the winner can have it signed by Paul Reed Smith himself.
“We were also able to get a few banners up and we thank the Charles County government and the Charles County Commissioners for helping with that,” Grasso said. “The Town of La Plata wouldn’t let us hang over-the-street banners up and the commissioners allowed us to put it up on county property. They really stepped up and turned a negative situation into a positive.”
“Signs do help promote events for small business and that shouldn’t be a road block,” Commissioner Ken Robinson (D) said.
Robinson said he would have preferred that the town permitted banners to be hung above the street, but when that wasn’t viable, the county offered to allow a banner on the fence along the government building’s property.
“I think Rocktoberfest is indicative of the new energy that we’re seeing in La Plata,” Robinson said. “The energy is a sign that leadership is being passed to a new generation. It’s a connection between quality of life, economic development and small business in the region, making it the perfect Charles County event. We should also never lose sight of how important art and music is to education overall.”
For more information, call Grasso at Island Music Company at 301-3923960.