The nonprofit organization that employs adults with developmental disabilities at its Cadillac cafe will move forward with the Aug. 1 event starring American Hotel System while following social-distancing rules.
While much of the world — and almost all Michigan music festivals — have fallen prey to the COVID-19 pandemic, a one-day music celebration raising money for a good cause in Cadillac is moving full steam ahead.
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The sixth annual Depot Music Festival hosted by the nonprofit After 26 Project, which employs adults with developmental disabilities at its Cadillac cafe, will rev up Aug. 1 with regional acts American Hotel System, Feeding Grizzlies, Landing Dance Academy, Adam Joynt, Once Upon a Bison, 1000 Watt Prophet Duo and Craig Walworth.
The tax-exempt 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to training and employing developmentally disabled and cognitively impaired adults 26 years of age or older has long given its clients responsibilities such as greeting customers, taking water to tables, washing dishes, busing and cleaning tables, cleaning menus, conducting janitorial duties and related tasks.
The music festival at the Depot — which is overseen by a volunteer board of directors, with daily operations handled by a general manager — is the organization’s largest fundraising event of the year and the 2020 headliner is thrilled to be part of the lineup.
“We’ve had a total of 25 shows canceled so far this year and we’re beyond excited to finally be back together for an incredible cause,” said Jacob Betts of The American Hotel System, a Grand Rapids rock band.
“Depot will be our first live performance in over six months and we’re looking forward to seeing how the community can come together and support the After 26 Project in a time when organizations like this need it most.”
The festival starts at 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1, with the Café offering food and beverages from its patio starting at the same time and ending shortly after the headliner begins. There’s no admission fee, but attendees are encouraged to make donations and the festival has received sponsorship help from area businesses.
Attendees are strongly encouraged to wear a mask and maintain six feet of social distancing from other fans.
TIME TO “FORGET ABOUT THE PROBLEMS THAT HAVE PLAGUED 2020”
Organizers said the venue is rather large, so audience members should have plenty of room to spread out.
“Our hope is that Depot will be a time when we can forget about the problems that have plagued 2020 and focus on the joy that live music brings in a responsible and safe way,” Betts said.
Kelly Hondorp of After 26 said while “there was some uncertainty” about moving forward, organizers have “jumped all hurdles by the health department and received city approval” for the festival.
The cafe currently employs 17 ‘project workers’ who perform various job tasks around the restaurant.
In Michigan, special needs individuals can no longer attend public schools after the age of 26. So in 2007, a local group of retired teachers, parents and volunteers got together to create some meaningful employment opportunities for those adults, meeting a real need not only in Cadillac but across the state.
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