La Plata looks to raise funds for mu­sic, art with Rock­to­ber­fest

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­ Twit­ter: @Tif­fIndyNews

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.

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