By Heather Pilkington, Register Staff Writer
Gainesville Daily Register
Cooke County —
The annual Pawlessfest outdoor Texas music festival, benefiting Volunteers in Services to Others (VISTO) of Cooke County’s “Backpack Buddies” program, is scheduled forSept. 22-24 at The Cedars Ranch, located at 2621 FM 1201.
Every year, the event is hosted by internationally known guitar maker Vince Pawless.
The “Backpack Buddies” program, according to the Pawlessfest website, was born out of necessity.
VISTO’s Executive Director Michelle Baldwin said the program began as a result of teachers noticing students complaining of headaches and stomach aches because they were not getting enough to eat at home.
Baldwin said unless you have seen a hungry child, it is hard to comprehend just how this program benefits the children of Cooke County. When children are hungry it affects their ability to concentrate and learn resulting in their only getting sicker.
According to the Pawlessfest website, VISTO knew that childhood hunger was epidemic in Texas, but in 2000, the census numbers said one in three children were living in poverty in the City of Gainesville.
The website said at the completion of the 2009-10 school year, VISTO provided a backpack full of food to 762 children in 14 schools.
Baldwin said the timing of this event is crucial because the school year has just started. Baldwin said the program, through the help of volunteers, packs a backpack for children living beneath the poverty line.
The backpack includes two breakfast items, two lunch items, two dinner items and two snacks to help provide the children with meals over the weekend. Upon the students return to school on Monday, they return the backpack to be refilled and distributed the next Friday. Baldwin said the cost of the program is $5 per week for each child that the program serves. The festival opens its gates at noon Thursday, Sept. 22, for RAW camping (meaning in the sites natural state) to commence.
Those attending the festival are asked to bring any of the following items: Pop Tarts, pudding cups, cheese crackers, Starkist Chunk Light Tuna (2.6 oz foil packs), instant oatmeal, Chef Boyardee lunch cups, fruit cups, Vienna sausage, raisins and Hamburger Helper in individual microwaveable packets.
Tickets for the festival are $3 for Thursday, $5 for Friday, $10 for Saturday or $15 for the full event. RAW RV, no hook ups, and tent camping is $5 per night.
A silent action will be held on Saturday, September 24 and will feature a signed piece of Jeff Gordon’s race car.The first-ever “Pawless M” model fiddle, crafted by Vince Pawless, will also be raffled off on Saturday evening. Tickets for the raffle are $25 each. Tickets for the drawing will be sold throughout the event.
For more information about the artist performing, or the festival, visit www.pawlessfest.com or call the Pawless guitar shop at (972) 816-6139.