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Benefit concerts, sale slated at Backus

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Backus Auditorium in International Falls will be a busy place in the weeks ahead with a host of concerts and events aimed at raising money to keep the facility open.

Margarett Patnode, spokeswoman for “Citizens for Backus-AB,” said last week the group is eagerly working to complete grant applications as well as meeting with city and state reps for interim funding.

“We’re hoping that in two years we will be self-supporting,” she added.

In the meantime, the citizens’ group has organized everything from benefit concerts to rummage sales to raise money for the facility. “We’re very busy and things are beginning to pick up,” Patnode enthused.

Events kick off Saturday, Oct. 26 with a country bluegrass jamboree to be held at Backus starting at 7 p.m.

The line-up will include country music signer Bill Pelto, singer Gail Miles, bass guitarist Kenny Lehtinen, guitarist Bud Fossen, dobro player Mike Christensen, and Lorene Clark, who was inducted into the Nashville Country Music Hall of Fame last month.

“They are all local northern Minnesota people and all very well known,” Patnode said.

“Citizens for Backus-AB” also will be holding an open house at Backus on Sunday, Oct. 27 from 1-4 p.m.

“We will be letting people browse through the building and see what has been done and what needs to be done,” she noted. “People should come and reminisce if nothing else.”

People also will be able to purchase CDs from local Gospel pianist Henry Wiens at the open house.

“There will be two CDs—one is a holiday CD and the other is more easy listening,” Patnode said.

All proceeds from the sales of CDs, which cost $15 (U.S.) each, will go towards keeping Backus open.

“He [Wiens] volunteered to make these CDs and give the proceeds to us. I think that’s really sweet,” Patnode enthused.

Music isn’t the only way to keep Backus a float. There also will be a rummage sale there Saturday, Nov. 2 from 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

“There are excess desks and equipment in the building that we really can’t use. Come and buy a piece of Backus,” she urged.

Finally, on Thursday, Nov. 7, “Paul Severson and Friends” will hold a second artists showcase there. The show starts at 7:30 p.m., with a pre-concert at 7.

Tickets will cost $10 for adults and $5 for students, again with proceeds going to Backus.

Garrett Mastin from Big Falls will present his Elvis Presley rendition while the audience also will be treated to a piano trio of Paul Severson, Henry Wiens, and Jessie Laurion.

A trio of singers as well as other performers are also lined up for the event.

Future endeavours, such as hosting a local performance of Handel’s “Messiah” closer to the Christmas season, also are in the works.

Patnode said community support for all of these events will help ensure “Citizens for Backus-AB” has the funds to maintain the complex for years to come.

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