Berks County Ends Summer Season with Labor Day Concert and Family Gatherings at Blue Marsh
It’s been around 60 years since Dean Feller attended his first Ringgold Band concert as a boy, and at the band’s free Labor Day show in Berks County on Monday, he and his wife Marion were happy to see that the whole is still going strong.
“I’m just amazed at how they perform. They’re so uplifting,” said Marion, who particularly loves the band’s renditions of Broadway songs.
The couple from the canton of South Heidelberg were among more than 100 people who set up chairs and blankets to attend the concert near the red bridge along the Tulpehocken stream at the Berks County Heritage Center in the canton of Bern.
The band played their usual mix of patriotic songs, show tunes and American classics. Several singers were featured during the performance.
“We hope everyone has a good time,” band manager Chuck Ebersole said.
The show was one of the many ways people celebrated the unofficial end of summer in Berks.
The weather was pleasant for the morning concert but turned rainy in the afternoon, leading to the premature closure of some community pools in Berks that had last opened this year.
The 90-minute concert was presented by the Berks County Department of Parks and Recreation, having been paid for through a grant from the American Federation of Musicians – Local 135/211 to the band.
It was the first time in recent memory that the county hosted a Labor Day concert. When the park service was offered the chance by the Ringgold Band, it jumped at it, said Recreation and Special Events Supervisor Lisa Gauker.
“It’s a great way to end the summer,” she says.
Parks Department Public Relations/Marking Coordinator Lauren Little encouraged the crowd to look for future events on the department’s Facebook page @berkscountyparks. This includes the 18th annual Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day celebration to be held at the Heritage Center on September 17.
At Blue Marsh Lake there were hundreds of people having fun early in the day while the weather was still nice.
Boating, swimming, grilling, playing volleyball, flying kites, fishing and lounging in hammocks were among the most popular activities as barbecue smoke wafted through the park.
Just as Blue Marsh has been the scene of many family reunions, so has the gig, including the family of Chris Thompson from Exeter Township.
Her mother, Donnasue Thompson of Sinking Spring, has played the flute in the band for over 35 years and also sings, so three generations of her family have come to see her perform.
“She loves being a part of it and we love supporting her,” Chris said of his mother, a retired music teacher at Wilson Elementary School.
While Donnasue and his bandmates were performing, his grandchildren were dancing and Chris imagines that they too will soon be musicians.
“It’s nice that it’s something you can do all your life,” he said.