The fifth annual Maplepalooza is coming up this weekend (Saturday, March 24, doors open at 6:30 p.m.) at Kimberley Hall, and for the second time Meaford's Chris Scerri has been involved in planning and promotion.
The annual event, a true community celebration, was founded by Jonathan Robinson. Originally a gathering of his friends to enjoy harvesting maple syrup from the sugar bush on his property during the day, and live music in the evening, it has grown in significance each year. Last year, for the first time, he coupled it with a benefit for Meaford’s family of Syrian refugees.
Fittingly, since Kimberley is located at the bottom of the Beaver Valley, where the Beaver River runs through, the beneficiary of this year’s party is Beaver Valley Outreach, a community-based organization of volunteers whose mandate it is to enrich the community by offering programs to meet the needs of the residents of the Beaver Valley. Most of their programs are designed to assist young families, with both winter and summer day camps, a kid’s club, a breakfast club and pre-school. They raise funds through donations and sales at their Treasure Shop, a second-hand store currently located on Bruce Steet in Thornbury.
“They’re moving out of a small office in Thornbury to where Piper’s used to be in Thornbury on Highway 26,” said Chris. “They’ve taken on some additional expenses and they do a great job and we’re trying to raise some money for them.”
Chris Scerri has become well known as a promoter with the magic touch, mounting several successful productions at Meaford Hall and creating the Meaford Summer Concert Series, which will be running for the third year this summer. At the same time he has gained fans as an impressive vocalist, and several months ago he formed a band with some of our best local musicians, called Horseshoes and Handgrenades. Guitarist Jon Zaslow, bassist Johnny Roy, and drummer Beaker Granger provide a solid backing for Chris’s vocals, and the band has been playing regularly, developing a reputation for high energy shows. They will be the headliners on Saturday.
Violinist Victoria Yeh will be joining the band after a short set of her own. The plan is to start the evening with a pair of singer songwriters, John Brownlow and Bill Monahan, each doing a solo set. Between them and the headlining band, which should start around nine, Chris is expecting some surprise guests, including representatives of young local talent, to come by “to jam with the band or maybe doing their own thing”.
Chris explained that Jonathan Robinson had been instrumental in his decision to move with his wife Marissa to Meaford.
“He is a Toronto firefighter that lives in Kimberley and he came into our store when we lived in Port Credit. He invited us to come up and hike in Kimberley. At that time we were thinking of moving somewhere. We came up to Kimberley and then discovered Meaford and ended up moving to Meaford.”
Jonathan, he says, has “done a lot of music at his home and at Kimberley Hall. So he and I shared a love of the outdoors and of music which created a really good relationship there for us.”
This year’s event looks like it will shape up to be a success on the same scale as last year’s.
“We’re expecting the same kind of crowd as we did last year,” said Chris. “From what I understand we’re probably getting close to maximum capacity. We made tickets available on line for people that don’t really live around the area but most of the tickets are being sold at the General Store in Kimberley or at the BVO office.
“Last year we played and it seemed that the crowd went crazy toward the end. We’ll stay with that kind of stuff when we go on and see how long people want to hang around and party but it will probably wrap up around eleven o’clock.”
Tickets for the fundraiser are $25 and include food from the barbeque (sausages, brisket sandwiches, veggie option) and soft drinks. There will be a cash bar with $5 drinks. Everything from the bar goes to the Beaver Valley Outreach, as do most of the proceeds from the evening.