Cooking up fun: Organizers round up funds for Labor Day concert

The 31st annual free Labor Day benefit concert in Columbus is just a few weeks away, which means fundraising efforts are ramping up.

Providing free admission Sept. 2 to see classic rock group Blue Oyster Cult, whose biggest hit was the 1976 tune “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” means host Our Hospice of South Central Indiana must generate revenue in ways other than ticket sales.

From custom-made grills to cash raffles and T-shirt sales, local residents can support Our Hospice in a number of ways.

Last year’s concert generated a record $120,000, with proceeds used to fulfill the agency’s mission of treating seriously ill patients in Bartholomew and nearby counties.

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The gathering, which attracted an estimated 8,000 people last year for pop singer Peter Cetera, is the largest fundraiser each year for the agency, which became one of the first hospices in Indiana when it launched in 1986.

Organizers are promoting the Labor Day weekend event’s sale of raffle tickets, T-shirts, and encouraging bids on an original acrylic painting valued at $1,500.

Columbus artist Donna Rosenberg, marking her third year of donating a work of art for the cause, this year has painted a rural scene featuring a cow and the title, “More Cowbell Connections.”

The name refers to a “Saturday Night Live” comedy skit featuring actors portraying Blue Oyster Cult recording “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” with an overzealous cowbell percussionist. A producer in the skit, however, keeps requesting even “more cowbell.”

“That’s all I could think about when I heard the band would be Blue Oyster Cult,” Rosenberg said.

The cow, which has a “BOC (Blue Oyster Cult)” ear tag and a cowbell hanging below its face, is captured on a 3-foot-square canvas, for sale in online bidding that will start at $350.

“The painting is focused on creating an emotional connection to others through art,” according to Rosenberg’s description online. “Connections with music, community and memories of years past. Connecting through our senses to our feelings is powerful. Hearing music and seeing art can provide that link that brings us together.”

Her painting last year of a Mill Race Park scene, “30 years of Saturdays in the Park,” playing off the Chicago hit song that Cetera sang, sold for $1,000 in auction, she said.

“This overall event has become a huge tradition to people in Columbus — and even for many outside Columbus,” said Julie Davis, hospice’s events specialist. “A lot of families tell us they like to come out and picnic in the park.”

But some elements of the tradition are getting tweaked.

For example, event T-shirts will not be sold at the concert this year. Shirts will only be sold in advance through local retailer Hoosier Sporting Goods, with a portion of the proceeds going to hospice.

Price ranges from $15 to $21.75 depending on style and size.

Last year, 468 concert shirts were purchased, said Sheryl Tracey, hospice’s manager of resource development.

“Overall, the online ordering process will increase efficiencies, and will help us be good stewards of our not-for-profit dollars, with no leftover T-shirts,” Tracey said.

Employees at Faurecia Clean Mobility for the third year have used their design, engineering and welding skills to benefit Our Hospice.

Four teams, made up with a total of 30 Faurecia employees, each designed and created one-of-a-kind grills that have been donated for a raffle. The four grill designs are the Butler Grill, Bluetooth BBQ Pit, Tractor Grill and Tailgate Grill.

“This is a wonderful way for our employees to use their talents to give back to an organization that gives so much to this community,” said Dave DeGraaf, president of Faurecia North America. “We look forward to this event every year, and our grill teams really have a great time designing and creating these grills.”

The Grill Raffle during its first two years raised more than $7,000 to benefit Our Hospice. Raffle tickets cost $10 each, and are available at the Our Hospice inpatient facility, or at the Columbus Farmer’s Market on Saturday. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the concert, although winners do not need not be present to claim their prize.

Tickets for the $10,000 raffle are also available for $10 each.

Spotlighting the stage

Fans of the annual Our Hospice of South Central Indiana Labor Day weekend concert Sept. 2 will notice one big change when they arrive at Mill Race Park.

A new 40-foot by 32-foot rented stage will be used instead of the high-railed, elevated amphitheater platform that too often obscured performers, sometimes despite the help of jumbo video screens.

“We feel like this will be a big enhancement,” said Sheryl Tracey, hospice’s manager of resource development.

The previous stage had been the back side of the original amphitheater stage, designed to face a concrete seating area on the park’s south side, opposite of where the hospice crowd gathers. And it has been the focus of many a hospice performer’s lighthearted jabs in the past.

Last year, pop singer Peter Cetera joked that the railing was there because organizers clearly worried he would fall off the stage.

In 2004, former Monkees’ member Davy Jones was too short to see well over the railing. So he performed part of his concert standing on a trunk on the stage.

“I know,” Jones told the crowd. “I’ve heard it all before. I look a lot shorter on television.”

Fundraising opportunities

Here are various ways to support Our Hospice of South Central Indiana for its 31st annual free concert.

CONCERT SHIRTS: T-shirts for the Sept. 2 Our Hospice concert featuring headliner Blue Oyster Cult are available online at hoosiersportinggoods.com. Three styles are available — regular and women’s cut short-sleeve T-shirts and a long-sleeve option, all with the same design and color schemes. Depending on style and size, prices range from $15 to $21.75, with shirts only sold in advance. Visitors at Saturday’s Columbus Farmer’s Market can see examples from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Shirts ordered by Thursday will be available for pickup starting Aug. 23. Shirts ordered by Aug. 22 can be picked up at Hoosier Sporting Goods, 611 Washington St., starting Aug. 28.

https://hsg.tuosystems.com/stores/hospice-concert-2017

PAINTING AUCTION: To bid on Columbus artist Donna Rosenberg’s acrylic painting of a cow, valued at $1,500 with a $350 opening bid required, go online.

https://www.32auctions.com/organizations/22184/auctions/40717/auction_items/1062783

GRILL RAFFLE: To buy $10 raffle tickets for the four custom-made Faurecia grills, visit the Our Hospice of South Central Indiana inpatient facility at 2626 17th St., or at the Columbus Farmer’s Market on Brown Street between Fifth and Eighth streets on Saturday. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the concert.

$10,000 RAFFLE: To buy $10 raffle tickets for a $10,000 top prize, as well as smaller amounts, visit the hospice office, at 2626 17th St.; Columbus Regional Hospital gift shop, 2400 17th St.; the Columbus Area Visitors Center, 506 Fifth St.; or purchase tickets at the Sept. 2 concert.

Concert overview

Who: Opening nine-member band The Woomblies Rock Orchestra from Indianapolis. Headlining act is classic rock band Blue Oyster Cult, whose heyday was in the 1970s.

When: Event begins at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 2 with remarks from Our Hospice of South Central Indiana. The Woomblies Rock Orchestra plays from 7 to 8 p.m. Blue Oyster Cult takes the stage at 8:30 p.m.

Where: The amphitheater area of Mill Race Park on Fifth Street. Concertgoers must bring blankets or lawn chairs for their seating.

Inclement weather: There is no rain location. Our Hospice carries rain insurance in case the event must be canceled.

Why: To raise money and awareness for the local, nonprofit Our Hospice of South Central Indiana, treating a variety of seriously ill patients.

Admission: Free.

In addition: A variety of children’s activities such as face painting.

Food and drink: Coolers and picnic baskets can be brought into the park, but vendors also will provide drinks such as lemon shake-ups and food such as pizza, pulled pork, ice cream and popcorn.

Information: ourhospice.org.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at bblair@therepublic.com or 812-379-5672.