By Nicole Lemal
Times West Virginian
This Saturday’s weather forecast shows that temperatures could reach 85 degrees.
Many may find themselves wanting to soak up the rays or cool off at the Wave Pool at East Marion Park, but on this particular Saturday, there is a little extra fun in store for those who visit.
It will be a scene similar to last year, a scene where children are playing on the jungle gym or dancing around to live music. Tables are set up for the audience, with some folks even bringing their own chairs to set out under the trees or onto the lawn.
The second annual Music Fest will host a variety of local musical talent, including Jim Pulice and Band, The Skinnys, Tony Nichols and Home Brew, and Joe Garcia. Other local bands are also expected to make an appearance. Sound will be provided by Jamco Sound.
Sponsored by the Community Outreach for Mental Health, Inc., the event will be held at Pavilion 1 from 2 to 7 p.m. Hot dogs and snacks will be offered. Admission for adults is $5 each. Children 12 and under are free.
“The bands are donating their time, and the ones that came last year enjoyed it themselves, listening to each other and being outside at Pavilion 1 at Wave Pool,” said Cookie Shaw, board of directors member. “They’re the same ones who are donating their time this year. It was a beautiful day, and we really enjoyed it.”
While providing entertainment for the local community and highlighting some local talent, Vice President Joyce Kirby and Shaw are hoping to raise money for their “drop-in center.” After a disappointing turnout last year, in which the event raised only $400, Kirby and committee members are expecting to more than double that this year.
Community Outreach for Mental Health, Inc. was created by community members with the objective to serve as a grass-roots, self-help, support and advocacy organization for mental health consumers, family members and friends of people with mental health illnesses. As family members of people suffering from mental health diseases, the organization feels there is a needed resources and services to aid those individuals.
“We find it a support to each other because they understand what their family members are going through, and it’s kind of a support system for us as well as our family members,” Kirby said.
“Drop-in centers” have existed for consumers at both the Friendship Room in Morgantown and The Open Door in Clarksburg, but their ultimate goal was to establish a “Welcome Inn” in Fairmont, which is currently housed at the Soup Opera. Consumers can go there on one Saturday a month for wellness education and socialization, while enjoying snacks and games.
Most of the funding comes straight out of their pockets, according to Shaw, and insurance to use the Soup Opera costs up to $2,000 per year.
“It would be big because the money that we raised, we have to pay for insurance at the Soup Opera to be there one Saturday a month. And it takes $2,000 a year in insurance, so anything else we do, we usually ourselves just donate the money or the snacks or whatever else it is.”
The music alone is an attraction, Kirby said, a worthwhile reason to check out the event. From country and western music to the classics or even newer, more modern music like the Skinnys, there is something for everyone.
"The music was unbelievable,” she said. “I did not realize the local bands were that talented, but the music was really, really unbelievable.”
Right off the Gateway Connector, the event is right on the outskirts of downtown and a central location to run into old friends. Remembering last year’s event brought back fond memories for Shaw, and she is looking forward to experiencing it again this year.
“It was a relaxing day,” Shaw said. “The bands were good. It was just a good place to visit. Because Fairmont is so small, we ran into people we know, and they came and went as they chose. They could come and hear a few bands, and if they had something else to do, they left and went to do that. It was a fun day.”
Those who are interested in getting involved with the Community Outreach for Mental Health, Inc. are encouraged to attend a meeting. Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. at the Valley Health Care System on Leonard Avenue in Fairmont.
Email Nicole Lemal at firstname.lastname@example.org.