Bands battle spotlights VFW renaissance

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June 22, 2011 - 12:00 AM

LAHARPE — Pat Spencer is eagerly anticipating a rockin’ good time for crowds and performers alike at Friday’s Battle of the Bands.
The event, geared as a fundraiser for the LaHarpe Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary, serves as the unofficial kickoff for the annual LaHarpe Days celebration.
The battle begins at 7 p.m. Friday at the VFW post and will feature the talents of three local bands: Latent Content, Led Astray and Pug; as well as three out-of-towners, Overdue Anthem, based out of Princeton, With Forte, from Ottawa, and Worst Day Ever, out of Chanute.
Each band will perform for 20 minutes in front of judges Tim Henry, Phil Ebert and Roger Orton. Each will be judged on their stage presence; how well they use up their 20 minutes; originality of music or interpretation of cover tunes; musical ability, including vocal and instrumental skill; and audience approval.
The winning band will get 40 percent of the admission purse and be invited to perform the balance of the evening until midnight.
Admission to the Battle of the Bands is $5 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under. Soft drinks and sandwiches will be for sale during the event.
“We really want to turn this into a fun, family-themed event that everybody can enjoy,” said Spencer, a VFW Auxiliary member and one of a core group of volunteers who has worked tirelessly to clean and do some moderate repairs to the VFW facility in anticipation of Friday’s show.
The band is being fitted with sound equipment on loan from John Barker of LaHarpe, who also is serving as cohost with Orton.

THE BATTLE of the Bands is the second major fundraiser spearheaded by the Auxiliary, Spencer said, following the inception of a monthly swap meet and farmers market June 11. Those events will be the second Saturday of each month.
The goal is to rebuild the Auxiliary’s cash reserves in order to resume weekly bingo games, which had been a popular draw for years in LaHarpe until it was stopped a few years back.
“The Auxiliary has many volunteers, but most of the ones who did most of the work were the older members,” Spencer said.
As participation among Auxiliary members dwindled, burnout became common and some of the most active members resigned their post.
“We thought we were going to lose our charter,” Spencer said, which prompted John Wagner, VFW commander, to approach members such as Spencer, Sandy Northcutt and others to pick up the baton.
“We figured that this is definitely something worth doing,” Northcutt said.
Spencer, the auxiliary’s president, and Northcutt, the treasurer, were among the new officers installed recently to oversee the fundraising efforts. Also installed were Linda Bartholomew, secretary, Marsha Karr, senior vice president, Adelina Holloway, junior vice president, and Carol Crawford, trustee.
The group must put about $1,000 in the bank in order to resume the bingo games, Spencer said.
“We’re working hard, but we don’t want this to be all about work, work, work,” Spencer said. “We want to have some fun, too.”
The monthly swap meet should gain participation as the community becomes more aware of its presence, “and as people start pulling things from their gardens,” Spencer said.

IN ADDITION to a more active auxiliary, Spencer and Northcutt also envision greater use of the VFW hall.
Some plumbing repairs were handled by Sonny Northcutt, while auxiliary members and other helpers have worked several hours a week for a deep cleaning.
“We want this clean to our standards,” Northcutt said — a lofty goal.
Spencer also pointed to a ceiling half painted, “and we have a roof leak we need to get fixed very soon.”
When those items are taken care of, the VFW hall will once again take its place as a jewel in the community, Spencer said.
“People could use it for private functions” available through donations to the VFW, Spencer said. “It’s a tremendous facility.”

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