Three Dog Night concert to highlight festival

Friday marks the beginning of the fifth annual Marion Chingawassa festival, a three-day event with entertainment for everyone in the family.

The highlight of this year’s festival will be the concert given by the pop-rock group Three Dog Night at 9 p.m. Saturday night in Marion’s Central Park.

According to Margo Yates, Marion Chamber of Commerce executive secretary, the original organizers of Chingawassa Days thought the festival needed something “outstanding and very unique” to bring visitors to Marion. Big name bands brought to town have included the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and the Kentucky Headhunters.

Three Dog Night was considered one of the most popular bands in the early 1970s. The current lineup has founding members Cory Wells and Danny Hutton as lead vocals.

Hutton brought the band together with the idea of showcasing lead singers who could also harmonize together. He discovered Wells while Wells was touring with Sonny and Cher.

In 1975, according to Wells on the band’s Internet Web site, the group “became disenchanted. We just quietly backed out of the picture.

“We have always had a sort of verbal agreement that we were never going to exploit the public for our own gain. We are not going to do four or five ‘farewell tours’ just to rake in the money.

“We had come on the scene quietly and we were going to leave the same way, with dignity.”

After a six-year break, members of the band began to draw together once again.

“We just had a test rehearsal and discovered the old magic was still there,” Hutton said on the Web site.

Besides Hutton and Wells, the original keyboard artist, Jimmy Greenspoon, and original lead guitarist Michael Allsup are also back with the band.

Bass player Paul Kingery and percussionist Pat Bautz have joined since the band’s reformation in 1981.

The three-day event officially begins at 6 p.m. Friday, with the Chingawassa BBQ, held in Central Park, sponsored by the Marion National Bank. The meal is free to those holding buttons.

The popular chain-saw artists will begin their craft at 6:30 p.m. Friday and will continue through Saturday until the Chain-saw Art Auction, which will be held at 6:30 p.m.

At 7 p.m. Friday, Gene’s Travel will sponsor a karaoke contest offering cash prizes for the winners.

Tanglefoot will provide the music for the Street Dance in the park, which will begin at 9 p.m.

Sports events including Round Robin Horseshoe competition will begin at 8 a.m. with registration starting at 7:30 a.m. There will also be a three-on-three basketball tournament.

At 9 a.m. the Attorney General’s Cup canoe races will begin, and the first clue for the Ching Spring hunt will be announced.

Main Street will host the Tampa State Bank Bedrock ‘n Run event at 10 a.m. Contestants decorate beds and race them down Main Street and back to win prizes for speed and original decorative talents.

The Marion Equipment Inc. will sponsor a pedal tractor pull for children at 1 p.m. with the winners advancing to county competition at the county fair.

A watermelon feed, free with a button, is at 2:30 p.m. with a bingo game to follow at 3 p.m. There is no charge to play bingo, and prizes will be given. This event is sponsored by the Central National Bank.

On Luta Creek Stage at 3 p.m., local teen bands will perform their music. The Yeti, a pop rock band, will start the concert time off, followed by FIXT, an alternative rock band.

Awards and prizes for all participation events and the bed races will be presented at 4:30 p.m. in the park at the gazebo stage.

The park will close to the public at 5 p.m. and only those with specially designated buttons will be allowed into the park after this time.

Music continues with the band Dark Horse performing at 5:30 p.m., the chain-saw art auction at 6:30 p.m., and Pawnee Rock at 7:15 p.m.

The feature band, Three Dog Night, will begin at 9 p.m.

Sunday morning the Marion Ministerial Alliance will conduct a community church service in the park. Participants are asked to bring lawn chairs or blankets for seating.

A community picnic will be held at 11:30 a.m. People are asked to bring their own lunches or to visit the food vendors in the area.

A gospel quartet will bring music to the picnic at noon, and at 12:30 p.m. St. Luke Hospital will sponsor an ice cream social, free to those with a button.

The last event of the festival will be a miniature horse demonstration by Larry and Deana Olsen of Cottonwood Miniature Horses.

Susan Cooper, director of Marion Economic Development, says, “The festival is a lot of work for a lot of people, but it is a good activity for Marion.”

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