A Great Bend couple will share their love of southern gospel music next month with two days of live entertainment, all offered at no charge.
The eighth annual Fall Gospel Sings Concert will be held from 7-9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, and 1-9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, at Barton Community College’s Fine Arts Auditorium. Featured singers are Frankie and Phyllis Valens from Clearwater; Haskell and JoLee Cooley from Wichita; Lamb Watchers Ministries from Fairbury, Neb.; 4 Told from Russell; Ed Huffman and Maize; The Toneys from Gallatin, Mo.; Joyful Noyz from Galeburg, Ill.; and Praise to Him from Paris, Mo.
Freewill offerings will be received for the singers, said Mary Chestnut. Mary and her husband Lynn have been organizing these concerts since 2004, making them a fall event in 2005.
“This is just something that we want to do,” Chestnut said. “We enjoy it and would like to get others interested in it.”
In spite of booking known performers such as Haskell Cooley, who used to play piano for the Cathedral Quartet, and The Toneys, whose song “Someone Stands By Me” was No. 1 on the God’s Country International Chart, Chestnut said attendance has been less that stellar — hovering around 100 people most years. The auditorium seats 850. The old-style southern gospel sound isn’t well known in this area, she said, although some of the singers do have faithful followings. This year the sponsors hope to draw a wider audience with Frankie Valens, a well known pop singer from the 1960s and ’70s, whose signature song is, “This Magic Moment.”
“Frankie only does some of his pop songs if he’s asked,” Chestnut said. He and his wife Phyllis, a concert pianist, have a concert ministry, but Chestnut said she has requested the singer performs some of his hit songs, which also include “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” and “She Cried.”
Longtime Great Bend residents, the Chestnuts travel to other states to hear the music they love. They organize these events because they want to promote southern gospel music in this area. For those who aren’t diehard fans, Chestnut notes this is a come-and-go event, particularly on the second day, when eight hours of programming is scheduled. Concessions will be available and are being sold as a fundraiser for Barton Community College’s cheer and dance teams. People do need to be present to win one of several door prizes that will be given away.
People have called this a ministry for the Chestnuts, and Mary doesn’t disagree. They spend weeks lining up the performers, preparing programs and finding area churches that the singers can visit on Sunday, Nov. 4. “We have had people tell us that this must be what God wants us to do at this time,” she said.