The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

June 6, 2013

Western-themed benefit to aid civic groups


JOHNSTOWN — No need to worry about putting on your best bib and tucker when the Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center and Johnstown Symphony Orchestra’s auxiliary put on the feed bag during Howdy, Hoedown!

The fundraiser, which will feature a deluxe Texas barbecue, country dancing and a chance to win a trip to Nashville, Tenn., will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. June 18 on Third Avenue in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.

The street in front of Bottle Works will be transformed into the O.K. Coral for the evening. Guests are invited to wear western attire, but don’t look for a shootout.  

The street will have a rodeo atmosphere, complete with hay bales and a tractor – and perhaps even some wildlife and ample time for some photo opportunities.

Rosemary Pawlowski, Bottle Works executive director, said the organizing committee tore a page from the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra’s music book to conduct a night of western fun.

“In the winter of 2008, the JSO did a concert with the music of movie Westerns, and it was a huge hit with terrific attendance,”‚ÄąPawlowski said.

“The orchestra members got to wear their jeans and boots. Even Maestro (Istvan Jaray) appeared in his string tie.”

Aside from the symphony’s holiday concert, the Western movie performance filled the hall with the orchestra’s best attendance of the year.

The auxiliary’s chairpersons are Michael and Monica Kozak of Richland Township. The Kozaks are using their knowledge of Texas to help shape the event.

They returned to their Johns-town roots in April after spending 40 years in Denton, Texas, where they worked at separate universities.

“The howdy is the Texas influence and the hoedown is the bluegrass side,” Michael Kozak said.

“We also spent time in Nashville and thought it would be an ideal getaway for the prized trip.”

Howdy, Hoedown! will include music by Mountain City Grass, a Blair County-based bluegrass band.

“They fit the bill perfectly and play all over to rave reviews,” Pawlowski said.

Band member Tom McCarty of Munster wants people to know that they had better be prepared to tap their toes when Mountain City Grass takes the stage.

“We are anything but high-brow,” McCarty said. “We are on the other end of the musical spectrum, but we will cut things up with the old-timey sounds of bluegrass legends like Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers."

The group usually performs with six members, but McCarty, a mandolin player, assured partygoers that they will hear lively and entertaining music. Other instruments in the group are a fiddle, bass, banjo and guitars, including a flat-picker.

For the buckaroos who don’t know the difference between hay and straw, a flat-picker produces a note-by-note sound rather than chords.

“I won’t want to say that this is not dance music, but it is a hoedown, and we are known for playing high-octane music,” McCarty said. “We do a lot of improvising, and we never do a song the same way twice.”

He said the search is for a caller who can do a few rounds of square dancing.

Joey Dell will prepare a Texas-style barbecue, complete with barbecued spare ribs as the main feature.

Monica Kozak has hosted more than one Texas barbecue while living in the Lone Star State and thinks the menu will delight patrons.

“We will have chili, potato salad, baked beans, Texas toast and, of course, a cobbler for dessert,” she said.

It is a sit-down meal with real lemonade for everyone.

“We are trying to locate some full-bodied western beers like Lone Star to serve guests,” Monica Kozak said.”   

Patrons will have to fork over some dough at a cash bar, where cowpokes and cowgirls can bend an elbow.

Those who attend will have the opportunity to win a trip for two to Nashville with accommodations at Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center by purchasing a chance for $75.

There will be 100 tickets sold.

Reservations for the dinner are $50 per person.

This will be the fourth year for the benefit, which previously featured a Hungarian celebration, a Greek theme and a Hawaiian luau.

Proceeds benefit the Bottle Works and the auxiliary.

“It’s going to be one heck of a fun time,” Pawlowski said.

“Everybody will be casual, and everybody will be lovin’ the music.”


What: Howdy, Hoedown! benefit for Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center and Johnstown Symphony Orchestra auxiliary.

Where: On Third Avenue in the Cambria City section of Johnstown.

When: 6 to 9 p.m. June 18.

Reservations: $50 per person.

Information: 536-5399.

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