On Tuesday, Camp American Legion held the inaugural “Campalooza.”
The day-long event featured several local musical acts such as Tuck Pence, Bernie Thompson, Michael Saint and Jeff Calhoun, and also provided an opportunity, according to camp director Don Grundy, for the public to come and see what the camp is all about.
What it’s about is veterans and their families.
Grundy said the main purpose for the event, as he and Thompson began putting it together, was “to get people here.”
“It’s not a fundraiser and it won’t be,” he said. “We’re not looking for that. We’re really looking to get people to come and check out camp. Maybe some of the folks who have been gracious enough to help out camp in different ways and then hopefully, they’ll go out and share with everybody ‘Man, you gotta go see that place.’ So, that’s what it’s for.”
Thompson said he’d first been contacted by Grundy roughly three years ago about doing some performing during the camping season, which runs from the first part of May until the last part of September.
“I did a trial run and they were kind enough to ask me back,” he said. “We just kind of proceeded with that and the next thing you know, they asked me if I could come back every other Thursday during the camping season. It kind of grew from there.”
It was Thompson’s connections with the other artists which helped get them lined up for Campalooza.
“Bernie’s like our franchise player,” Grundy said, jokingly.
“I did the music part,” Thompson said. “I organized, put the sound system together. This is huge to me ... to see people come out and see what opportunities there are out here and what’s available out there for veterans and their families. It means a lot to me just to be part of that, to share that. And then, to see the musicians jump on board ... I didn’t have to ask anyone twice.”
Grundy said with the artists lined up, he and Thompson knew they would bring a following and while Grundy acknowledged the weather and the lateness in getting publicity out may have hurt the overall attendance for this first year’s Campalooza, he said next year’s will be better doing the same thing and with the same artistic lineup.
“These guys are awesome,” he said. “For not really getting out there — all we did, really was Facebook — I think it turned out pretty good. Just bringing people out and show them camp.”
Brian Jopek may be reached via email at [email protected]