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The Fall Music Festival had humble beginnings; a homemade stage in a backyard, two local bands and a bunch of lifelong friends getting together for the night. By just its third year, now scheduled for September 14, from 2 to 9 p.m. the festival has graduated to an amphitheatre at the Dorflinger Wildlife Sanctuary, roughly 1,000 expected attendees and tens of thousands of dollars to be raised for local charities.
Though its scale has shifted, according to Jamie Rutherford—one of the event’s main organizers along with Bob Carmody, Todd Stephens, Joe Adams and Joe Gombita—the purpose of the festival remains the same: facing loss with the help of friends, community and music.
Sticking together through loss was the impetus and remains the fuel for the group of friends. The idea first came in 2014 when Carmody, who also plays drums for festival headliner Steppin’ Eddy, lost his wife Kate Frisch Carmody to cancer. Several more friends and loved ones have passed away since, including Rutherford’s son Brian, just last summer in the midst of planning for the second annual festival.
“My group comes to me, and they would have pulled the plug [on the festival] in a heartbeat if that’s what I wanted,” Rutherford said. “But what I found is everything good that I got from the event carried me through.”
Rutherford said, first and foremost, the fest brings him hope, which is “a powerful thing.” He’s trying to give that back to the community. “After your loved ones die… it’s going to hurt like hell, but if you let people help you, you’re going to make it through.”
As lifelong friends who have been seeing concerts together since high school, music has been a key component for the group in making it through some difficult times.
“As we lost more friends, the music just became more important,” he said. “It’s a way to cope, it’s a way to close your eyes; let the world go by for a little bit.”
Before the music starts, people are invited to participate in Kate’s Walk, in memory of Frisch Carmody, on the grounds of Dorflinger starting at 11:30 a.m. The musical lineup includes Two Chicks One Guitar, O&Co, Graham Baxter, Ballard Spahr Galactica and Steppin’ Eddy.
All of the event’s proceeds go toward local charities and cancer research. Starting this year, a portion of the money will be used to fund four musical scholarships, one at Wayne Highlands, Western Wayne, Wallenpaupack and Forest City district high schools.
Owen Walsh is a TRR reporter and musician who will be performing in the Fall Music Festival.