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Making Memorable Music, More Money

The Loudoun Summer Music Fest kicks off June 3 at the Belmont Country Club.

With musicians like The Black Crowes, Pat Benatar, Peter Frampton and Taylor Hicks, this season's Loudoun Summer Music Fest promises to be bigger and better, Tracey Parent, president of the Loudoun Foundation, said.

"The level of the bands has definitely surpassed anything we've ever had," Parent said. "Each year it just gets better and better."

In 2004, the music festival was the vision of Parent, who drove by the lawn at the Belmont Country Club constantly while going through her daily routines and envisioned a festival being held there.

When she lived in Richmond, Parent was a fan of Innsbrook After Hours, a summer music festival that offers big-name music shows at a low price. When she decided to move forward with the Loudoun Music Fest, she contacted the promoters of Innsbrook After Hours to learn how they got started. Then, she said, she pitched the idea to AOL, who continues to be a presenting sponsor of the festival.

"We're a very family-friendly event," Parent said. "If you're single, you go to Nissan. If you've got a babysitter, you go to Wolf Trap. If you're bringing your kids, you come to the Loudoun Summer Music Fest."

ATTRACTING THE big-name bands can be difficult, Parent said, because of the other options in the area.

"It is hard to negotiate with larger bands because there are so many venues around here," she said."[The lineup] is a testament to the festival's credibility as a venue."

From KC and the Sunshine Band and the Drifters to Sugar Ray and The Wailers, this year's line up has something to offer people of all ages and backgrounds.

"We definitely tried to mix it up," she said. "That's the way Loudoun is. It's a mix of all different kinds of people."

Parent said it was important to her and the other organizers to create a variety of shows that would keep different people coming out to Belmont Country Club week after week.

"The event will still be a laid back, casual, fun concert," Parent said. "Most likely people will be able to shake hands with or get an autograph from the band. And we really love that."

AS A PART of the annual event, two local charities will benefit not only from the money the festival brings in, but the number of people it attracts. A portion of the proceeds from this year's festival will go to Special Love Inc. and Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers.

The charities are chosen by a steering committee, following an application process.

"We have two wonderful charities this year," Parent said.

Special Love Inc. took part in the first two years of the music festival, so Dave Smith, executive director of the organization, did not know they would be eligible again.

"We were really lucky to be in the right place at the right time," Smith said of their original collaboration.

Special Love Inc. created "Camp Fantastic" for children with cancer and B.R.A.S.S. camp for the siblings of children with cancer.

"The financial support is wonderful, but as important is this is helping us raise awareness in Loudoun County that we work with children with cancer and their families," Smith said. "To be able to broadcast our services on such a large scale will help us reach that many more children."

Smith said his organization relies on word-of-mouth to reach many of the families they work with and many of those people may attend this summer's music fest.

"Families who are dealing with cancer tend to have their nose to the grindstone," he said. "It's the neighbor or the family member who hears about our organization and gets information for the family."

THROUGH ITS INVOLVEMENT in the Loudoun Summer Music Fest, Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers hope to gain money for its newest program, same-day transportation for seniors.

"There are no services in the county that provide that," Nancy Sutton, executive director of the organization, said.

Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers works with seniors and adults with disabilities throughout the county, helping them to maintain their independence and quality of life since 1995. Already providing scheduled transportation to seniors and help with medical appointments, running errands, simple home repairs and respite for family caregivers.

"We already provide a lot of services, but we are really trying to focus on same-day transportation, like when a doctor says he can fit you in that day," Sutton said. "It's vital."

Parent said she was really excited about having Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers as part of the festival for the first time.

"They are really a neat group," she said. "And they do a lot for the seniors in this county, which is really important."

Being a part of the Loudoun Summer Music Fest offers Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers a unique opportunity, Sutton said.

"When an organization or foundation steps up and provides the fund-raising, it gives us the opportunity to focus more on our programs," Sutton said. "We're just really thankful. They've given us the gift of fund-raising."