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2018 Veterans Concert and chili cook-off set for Nov. 11

September 19, 2018
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

On Nov. 11 (Veterans Day) the Austintown Middle School Bands and the Austintown Fitch High School Marching Band will pay tribute to veterans by holding their annual Veterans Day Concert at 5 p.m. in the Fitch Gymnasium. It has been slated as the sixth annual, but records indicate the concerts were held shortly after World War II.

"The Band Parents created this concert in this format November 2013, so this will be the sixth annual," said Band Parents Club president Brad Gessner. "However in researching the Band's history, a Veterans Day Concert was routinely held throughout the 1950s."

While the concerts may have been held before, the other major part of the event is something that began more recently, that being the chili cook-off. In this year's cook-off, local businesses, groups and individuals will put their chili creations up against some tough competition beginning at 2 p.m.. The chili cookers will be limited to the first 20 entrants this year. Entry forms are available online at the band's website or by contacting the band parents by email at Last year, "Saadey's on 46" was the Grand Champion Chili Cooker.

"Joe Saadey has always been a part of our Chili Cookoff," Gessner said. "He always brings amazing chili. We are confident he will return to defend his crown."

As in the past, the chili will be judged by a panel of veterans. Fitch Band Patriotism Award winner Ken Jacubek will be recruiting the judges and he always tries to get a veteran from each branch of the service.

Following the chili cook-off, the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade bands, under the direction of Jeremy McClaine, will perform patriotic selections as a tribute to all who have served in the armed forces. They will be followed by the Fitch High School Marching Band under the direction of Wesley O'Connor, who will present a tribute to recognize the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. World War I ended with a peace treaty signed on the 11th day of the 11th hour of the 11th month in 1918, or one hundred years to the day of this concert.

Gessner said the concert has really had good effects on the students who perform at them.

"It is eye opening for our band members," he said. "They play patriotic music, but this concert gives them an opportunity to play that music directly for the Veteran's. Last year when we introduced several World War II Veterans to the audience it was a very special moment for all of the band members."

The event benefits both the music program and veterans. The admission proceeds for the event are reinvested into the band's uniform and instrument accounts. Gessner said proceeds from the 50-50 raffle are always donated to the Mahoning County Veterans' Services Commission to give to local veterans in need.



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