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This Weekend Is For The Kids

April 25, 2007 - Jim Price

If you have children who have expressed interests in music and/or entertainment, there are two noteworthy events in the Altoona area this coming weekend to check out.


This Saturday, April 28, Get Closer To The Music, an organization that strives to introduce and connect children to the world of music and instruments, is presenting their 4th annual Music Festival.  The Festival will take place at the East Juniata Community Center, 1608 North 5th Avenue in Juniata (behind the former Long Branch Café location).  The event runs from 11 AM to 5 PM, and admission is free.


The Music Festival will provide an opportunity for children and families to explore the world of music.  There will be an instrument “petting zoo” with guitars, basses, keyboards, drums and other instruments, which children can touch and play.  Several instrument instructors will be on hand to guide youngsters in the proper techniques of playing the instruments.  In addition, the day will feature performances from several area bands, including Spirit Lost, Generation Gap, Hair Force One and Felix & the Hurricanes, with opportunities for children to join the musicians onstage.  There will also be a cameo appearance from local Nashville recording artist Ricky Lee.  In addition, there will be door prizes and raffles, free food and refreshments, and several local businesses and organizations will have tables set up with information and other items.  On top of all of this, the Rock For The Troops folks will be on hand to videotape greetings and personal messages to our local troops serving overseas. 


Saturday’s Music Festival will provide an opportunity for kids to discover the world of music and its possibilities.


Then this Sunday, April 29, see what can happen when children are introduced to the world of music and entertainment at Dennie Huber’s 17th annual Crazy Fest Amateur Youth Talent Show, which takes place at the Greenwood Firehall, along Pleasant Valley Boulevard in Greenwood.  The event begins at 1 PM.


Dennie Huber started Crazy Fest in 1990, to give amateur entertainers the opportunity to display their talents in the spotlight, many for the first time; just as somebody gave Dennie his first opportunity to entertain in front of an audience years ago.  The original Crazy Fest events were held at the A&J IAIA Post in Altoona, and were open to folks of all ages to perform and compete for trophies, plaques, awards, and their moment in the spotlight in front of a friendly and supportive audience.  Eventually, Crazy Fest turned its focus towards spotlighting area youth ages 21 and under; and after the A&J IAIA Post closed several years ago, the event was moved to the Greenwood Firehall.


Crazy Fest is a talent show and a contest.  But it is not American Idol.  There are no Simon Cowell types on the judging panel, and contestants will not be humiliated or berated.  The purpose of Crazy Fest is to encourage, and never discourage, young performers to demonstrate their talents.  The audience is friendly and supportive, and the judging panel is composed of Crazy Fest alumni, some who have pursued entertainment as a career themselves.


Any and all forms of entertainment are encouraged at Crazy Fest, including singing, playing instruments, acting and theatre, magic, dance, baton-twirling, and whatever other talents the young mind can come up with.  Past contestants have introduced elaborate ethnic dance routines, break-dancing, classical harp performances, marching drum armies, even a coordinated music and hacky-sack routine.  Dennie explains that this is part of the reason why he calls the event “Crazy Fest;” because every year is unpredictable, and there are bound to be performance surprises at any given year’s event.


Amateur youth bands are also invited to participate in Crazy Fest.  Bands are usually spaced out through the course of the afternoon, so each band has a time frame to set up their instruments and gear.  Trophies and awards will be issued in a special band division.  All band members must be 21 years of age or younger, and not yet be performing professionally on the bar or festival circuit.


Just about every young performer will come away with at least some hardware at Crazy Fest.  There will be trophies, plaques, awards, ribbons and prizes issued in a number of age categories.  And keeping with the “Crazy Fest” name, Dennie Huber reserves the right to vary the age categories depending on the number of contestants representing any age group.  So if a large number of entrants ages 15 and 16 show up on Sunday, Dennie may divide that age bracket into separate age 15 and age 16 brackets respectively, so more of those entrants can win hardware.

Youngsters wishing to compete in Crazy Fest may register by calling Dennie Huber at (814) 942-2516.  Although entrants are encouraged to pre-register, walk-ins are welcome to compete if they arrive before the start time of their respective age division.


Although Dennie Huber doesn’t take credit for the future success of his Crazy Fest contestants, the event has provided a springboard to help launch the careers of several of this area’s most successful musicians and entertainers.  Among the more prominent Crazy Fest alumni are popular regional country singer Crystal Marie, Claysburg native Crystal Cameron (now a Dallas/Fort Worth-based Christian music performer), acclaimed local drummer Aaron Kimmel, singer and musician Typhani Janelle Russo and others.  And from Crazy Fest’s amateur band division, the Altoona-based heavy metal band Dragon Fire eventually appeared nationally on the Farmclub television series; and John Fleming, singer and bassist for Dead Reckoning, the band division winners at the very first Crazy Fest in 1990, eventually was featured in the pages of Spin Magazine as his current alter ego, Fisher Meehan, the singer and bassist of the rising Chapel Hill, North Carolina-based band Drugmoney.


It just goes to show that the possibilities are endless when young people are introduced to the world of music and entertainment, and encouraged to perform and pursue their dreams.


Admission and registration is free for entrants to compete at Crazy Fest.  The admission cost for the general public to attend is $2 per person.  The Greenwood Firehall will provide food and refreshments from their kitchen; proceeds from food sales benefit the fire company.

  This is a weekend for youngsters to explore the possibilities of music and entertaining.  It is also a weekend to catch a glimpse of possible future performers as they demonstrate and nurture their developing talents.  It is a weekend to spotlight and celebrate youth.

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