Archive for the ‘Moonlight Music Festival’ Category

Mary Duty, Trib Board of Contributors Tuesday July 3, 2012

The Moonlight Music Fest held Memorial Day weekend in Meridian can be considered a success on many levels. Attendance was good. People left happy. The concert series even attracted foreign visitors. Folks from Canada and Germany prove Billy Joe Shaver can really draw a crowd.

Matt Alexander, our new Canadian friend, wrote: “We were blown away by the Texas hospitality! Thanks to Caleb, you, your family and the kind people of Bosque County, I met a songwriting hero of mine and left with rich memories.”

Most important of all, veterans from every conflict since World War II were honored during three days of music, games, good food and fellowship.

As readers may remember, the event was to be held at our farm near Robinson. But some residents approached the city council and voiced concerns about rowdy behavior, underage drinking, theft, vandalism and electromagnetic waves that might harm local livestock. The council voted down the plan.

Then Bosque County and the city of Meridian stepped up, offering us a location.

We’re happy to report that during the Moonlight Music Fest only two tickets were issued by the Meridian Police Department. Two young residents were cited for trying to sneak into the event. There were no other arrests for any other offense. No minor in possession. No DUI. No public intoxication. No vandalism. No complaints from neighbors about loud noise or burglary attempts. And, yes, all the livestock in the area made it through the weekend safe and sound.

And, true, five or six dogs did attend the concert, but there were no dogfights reported.

Just as Caleb vowed, it was a delightful, peaceful and thoroughly honorable event. Here’s what did happen that weekend.

Representatives from the Military Order of the Purple Heart set up the Texas Fallen Heroes Memorial Wall that honors the men and women from Texas who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. The memorial was erected in a grove of trees and gave concert-goers a place to pause and reflect.

The Meridian Volunteer Fire Department had a firetruck on display, held a raffle each night and collected donations for their benevolence fund. They were pleased.

Toward the end of Saturday night, Caleb invited all veterans in attendance to make their way to the stage. One by one they came out of the crowd. A nicely dressed older gentleman slowly made his way to the front. Then a young mom came forward with her children. A kid just back from Afghanistan joined them. Before long, the front of the stage was full of men and women, the young and not-so-young, all bound by service to country, shaking hands and hugging, laughing and sharing stories. We had vets from World War II and Korea and Vietnam, all the way to Desert Storm and Iraq and Afghanistan, and virtually any conflict in between.

Photographers captured in an instant all that Caleb fought for in his idea. Moonlight Music Fest offered a snapshot of the American Dream — children laughing and playing games, moms and dads watching their little ones spin and dance to the music, other folks sitting on the edge of the dance floor, holding hands and tapping their feet, and everyone enjoying an evening free from fear. We were living a modern-day Norman Rockwell painting. All weekend long we saw the things that men and women down through time have been willing to fight and die for.

These men and women we honored were the ones who stepped up to serve. They were the ones who ran to the sound of danger so we didn’t have to.

For one weekend, we were able to show in a very real and tangible way how much we care about them and what they were willing to do for us. The memory of their smiles and the tears in their eyes is the reason we will have a second Moonlight Music Fest.

Local educator and businesswoman Mary Duty is president of the Heart of Texas Blue Star Mothers of America. She and her son, Caleb, an Iraq war veteran, coordinated the Moonlight Music Festival during Memorial Day weekend.

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Pulling on my son’s boots

MARY DUTY

Board of Contributors
Waco Tribune Herald

Saturday April 28, 2012

One Sunday two weeks ago I walked five miles. And it changed my life forever.

I walked those miles in a pair of combat boots that belonged to Caleb, our Marine son. They were too big for me, but with a rolled-up sock in the toe and new shoelaces, I could cinch them up real tight. Off I went.

About 40 people joined Granger Smith and his band in Austin to kick off his 100-mile walk to Fort Hood. Smith walks 100 full miles and ends with a concert at Fort Hood. This is the second annual Boot Campaign Walk to raise money and awareness about the needs of returning veterans. For those of you who don’t know him yet, Granger Smith is a Texas country singer and songwriter who has a real heart for veterans. He has made trips to Iraq to entertain the troops and has even played at the White House on the back lawn in an event to support our men and women in uniform. His voice is angelic, his music is beautiful and his heart is big.

Smith is headlining Caleb’s veterans benefit concert, Moonlight Music Festival. It will be at Meridian on Memorial Day weekend, May 25-27. You may remember the Moonlight Music Festival as the music event that almost did not happen. It was originally planned for a farm in Robinson but was moved to Meridian after local residents expressed concerns about crowds and noise. Bosque County and Meridian stepped up to the plate and invited Caleb to bring his dream to their neck of the woods.

Caleb’s Bosque County event is raising funds for local veterans charities including VFW Post 6008 and the Central Texas Veterans Coalition. These folks are dedicated to serving our returning veterans and keeping the promises that our country made as they went off to serve us. We thought it would be nice to support Granger in his fundraiser, so off we went.

In the Boot Campaign Walk, everyone wears combat boots. There were moms and dads, wives and friends. Caleb and two Marine buddies joined in. Men and women who represented corporate sponsors walked. Retired Navy SEAL and author Marcus Luttrell joined the group. The governor was even there. Rick Perry made every step of the first five miles with us.

Of course, I was walking in Caleb’s combat boots. So there was a connection that grew with each step on the grassy shoulder of the highway as we made our way. As I walked, I thought of the places that those boots had taken him. I remembered the videos of house raids and bursting into school rooms chasing snipers. I thought about Caleb and his friends as they patrolled the dusty banks of the Euphrates River. With each step, I felt more and more connected to him and ultimately to all the folks who lace up these boots every day to serve and protect us back home in America.

As the miles ticked by, pain in my feet began to intensify. It was not from the size of the boots so much as from the uncertainty of the path ahead. Again I was drawn to the realization these boots had been where I would never go. They had protected our son’s feet through chases down long dusty alleys and the back rooms of houses. These boots kept him warm during that cold winter when he spent Christmas Eve sleeping in a Humvee somewhere in the desert of the Al Anbar province. That winter Caleb often went days without getting out of those boots. Chasing the bad guys, he said.

And then I looked ahead. I saw Caleb and his buddies talking, smiling and jogging — comrades once again. But this time they were not after the bad guys.

This time they were walking and running for a new future. They were walking for the ones who cannot. They were walking for the ones who didn’t make it back. They were walking to make sure that we never forget the price that is paid by those who choose to lace up those boots every single morning and go out into an uncertain and hostile world.

I encourage you to get a pair of combat boots. Get ones that fit. Walk in them. You will never be the same. And I encourage you to attend Caleb’s Moonlight Music Festival in Meridian this Memorial Day weekend. By supporting young people such as Granger Smith, a musician with a heart for our troops, and Caleb Duty, a young former Marine with a vision for healing the mind, body and spirit of the warrior, you can join them all in their long walk home.

Mary Duty chairs the social studies department at Tennyson Middle School and co-owns Poppa Rollo Pizza. Her son served two tours of duty in Iraq with the Marines in 2006 and 2008.

 
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Staff photo / Meridian Tribune
During a press conference at the Bosque Bottoms Jan. 3 Mary Duty, next to her son Caleb, explained her commitment to her son’s endeavor to organize a music festival/fundraiser Labor Day weekend in Meridian
Meridian to host Moonlight Music Fest
by Staff report
 (Posted 1/10/2012 09:47 am)

In a press conference held Jan. 3 at the Bosque Bottoms, Iraqi Freedom-veteran Caleb Duty announced Meridian was hosting the Moonlight Music Fest he is organizing. With the country music festival, Duty wants to raise awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder in soldiers returning from war. Duty and his family hope to draw a large crowd by engaging several big name bands to the two-day event, planned for Labor Day weekend. “If your motives are right, and your heart is right, things will work out,” Bosque County Judge Cole Word said at the press conference, explaining his support of the music festival. “Caleb’s motives are right. We need people like him, with his experiences to help others. Caleb is called to give back and help other vets to get back into their communities and families. God bless you for stepping out. I am proud of this day. I am proud of you.” Duty originally wanted to host the festival-fundraiser on the family’s 121-acre homestead, but Robinson’s City Council shot down his proposal, as neighbors were concerned about noise, security issues and trash dumping. On hearing this, local veteran Ronnie Ogel contacted Word, encouraging him to support Duty. According to Word, Facebook did the rest. Word contacted Mary, Duty’s mother through Facebook. And the ball got rolling, starting with the National Barbecue Cookoff Board allowing the event to take place in the Bosque Bottoms. “Caleb’s got his bases covered,” Meridian Police Officer Chris Blanton said. “With the assistance of North Bosque EMS and the Meridian Volunteer Fire Department, we don’t expect any big problems.” Duty expressed his thanks to Meridian for welcoming him with open arms and for the support he has received. At this time Duty is not at liberty to disclose names of the Texas Country musicians they are negotiating with, but the name Billy Joe Shaver was mentioned. Shaver is a family friend. “I was lucky,” Duty, who served two tours of duty in Iraq in the Marine Corps said “When I returned home, I could go to work in my father’s restaurant – Poppa Rollo’s Pizza in Waco. My concerns are for the guy who doesn’t have a family, who doesn’t have a place to go work, who can’t get his questions answered.” Duty was fortunate enough to find his way to his local Veterans from Foreign Wars and American Legion. “My generation does not go to a VFW or AL posts,” Duty said. “But I got so much help there in the transition back to civilian life. I want younger vets to be aware of the help they can get there, so they can avoid the heartache and troubles veterans go through. If we can make VFW posts and American Legion posts more enticing to younger people, they might actually go, they might actually see and speak to Vietnam veterans and get the advice and help that they didn’t get whenever they got out.” “We need to keep our promise to our young people,” Duty’s mother, president of the Heart of Texas Blue Star Mothers of America, said. “They need our support, because when they come back from war, it is not over. Sometimes it’s only just begun.” Duty wishes to include other activities during the May 25-26 event, like a barbecue cookoff, a horse-shoe competition, a volleyball tournament and classic car show. He also expects to attract vendors. Tickets for the May 25-26 event will be around $15 per day. The next step in the organizational process is finding sponsorships to cover the band fees and other costs. Duty has already worked six months preparing the event. Proceeds from the event will benefit a residential therapy program for veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder at the Waco Veterans Affairs.

Mary Duty, Trib Board of Contributors: Are we sunshine patriots?

MARY DUTY
Board of Contributors

 
 
In many ways, we hold ourselves responsible for the Robinson Planning and Zoning Committee’s denial of our request for a veterans benefit in the city of Robinson. We failed to get our message out in a way that made our neighbors on Hillside Drive feel safe. We simply could not imagine anyone in this community saying no to a veterans event.

My son Caleb, a Marine Corps veteran who completed two tours of duty in Iraq, set out to transform a 121-acre plot of land on Hillside Drive in Robinson into a venue for festivals, camping and outdoor community events. His chief goal: Hold a three-day music festival during Memorial Day weekend and donate the proceeds to local veterans groups.

We sent letters to our neighbors, leaving phone numbers so that we could answer any questions they might have about the proposed event. Unfortunately, a lot of misinformation and rumor made its way around the community. By the time the hearings began, there were so many “what ifs” that we had no way to address all of the concerns.

Many residents had visions of a ’60s-styled Woodstock-type event. Many were fearful of young people committing felony crimes while attending this benefit. One neighbor spoke of children trespassing and abusing farm animals. We are still not sure how to counter such fears.

Part of our failure to get the benefit approved is probably because of the nature of the permitting process itself. It was suggested the language of the permit be broad, so as to allow for planning events we might want to hold in the future. So, on the advice of city planners, we produced an application that was worded broadly and met all the requirements of fire safety, public safety and traffic safety according to the city of Robinson. Both city fire and police chiefs testified to the committee that the city was ready to handle the potential size of our proposed benefit.

Our intention was to mount only one or two events each year — and on property that has been in our family since the mid-1950s. (And, yes, one of my husband’s ancestors settled this area back in 1849 — well before most folks did!)

What we did not expect was the unified opposition of our neighbors on Robinson’s Hillside Drive.

Resident after resident came to the podium and prefaced his or her remarks with glowing praise for the service and sacrifice of the veterans in attendance at the meeting. Many spoke of loved ones who served in the military. At least one of those opposed to the fundraiser belonged to a Gold Star family. After thanking the veterans for their service, they spoke of their fears of losing their peace and quiet, potential vandalism and crime.

One of our neighbors spoke of the freedoms that she enjoyed living on Hillside Drive. She spoke of the lovely sunsets, the peace and quiet and the joys of raising her grandchildren in the country. She turned to the veterans in attendance and pleaded her case to them: “Please don’t take away my freedom.”

We humbly remind our neighbor that the freedoms she enjoys today were paid for through the service and sacrifice of all of our veterans.

The final decision is up to the Robinson City Council, which will meet to consider the permit at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

In military training, troops are taught that it is noble and good to sacrifice temporary creature comforts for a greater cause. We got this idea in part from Thomas Paine. He warned of the summer soldiers and sunshine patriots, those who would shrink from service when it was inconvenient. But he reminds us that “he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” 

We will not be the sunshine patriot. We have a plan to provide that love and thanks to our veterans that Paine spoke of. We know that somewhere there is a community that will embrace the idea that it is good to return a favor to young men and women who have given so much to us.

Mary Duty, chairwoman of the humanities department at Tennyson Middle School, is president of the Blue Star Mothers of America’s Heart of Texas Chapter. Her son, Caleb, served two tours of duty in Iraq with the Marines in 2006 and 2008.

By Regina Dennis

Tribune-Herald staff writer

Sunday January 1, 2012

A Robinson Marine found a home for his joint music festival and veterans fundraiser, but he had to move the show to a neighboring county.

Caleb Duty, an Iraq war veteran, will hold the Moonlight Music Festival at Bosque Bottoms Park in Meridian, about 45 miles from Waco, during Memorial Day weekend, May 25-26.

Proceeds from the festival will be donated to a residential therapy program for post-traumatic stress disorder at the Waco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, as well as to local veterans’ support groups, Duty said.

Caleb Duty’s original proposal to host a festival on his family’s Robinson property met fierce resistance from neighbors.

He originally wanted to host the festival and fundraiser at his family’s 121-acre homestead in Robinson. But the idea drew sharp opposition from his neighbors on Hilltop Drive, who were concerned about noise, trash dumping, increased traffic along the winding road, and police and fire protection during the festival.

Robinson City Council in November voted down a permit to allow the festival, and potentially other community events during the next five years.

Soon after the council’s decision, Bosque County Judge Cole Word contacted Duty and invited him to consider Bosque Bottoms Park for the event.

“I really just want to let everybody know that I found a new spot, and I’m appreciative of Meridian for inviting me,” Duty said.

“It’s been nothing but open arms since I’ve been there. People have just been happy to help.”

Meridian is no stranger to music festivals. The town was home to an annual fest more than a decade ago that was produced by Larry Joe Taylor, who also runs the Texas Music Festival in Stephenville that inspired Duty’s plans.

“It’s weird having to go outsource to a different county to make this work,” he said. “But a place that wants something like this and used to have something like this, I’ll work there with them until my neighbors (embrace the idea).”

Raise awareness

Mary Duty, Caleb’s mother and president of the Heart of Texas Blue Star Mothers of America, said she is glad to see her son continue pushing for the festival. She hopes it will help raise awareness about PTSD and the challenges veterans face when they return from war.

“It’s a matter of explaining to people what you’re trying to do, and then the people show up,” Mary Duty said. “It’s a good cause, and if the cause is pure and the motives are good, you’ll never go wrong.”

Caleb Duty is holding a press conference Tuesday at the park to announce performers for the event. He already has started working with Meridian Police Officer Chris Blanton, who is helping coordinate sheriff, fire and emergency medical responders. They also visited with Meridian city staff, the chamber of commerce and other leaders to make sure the festival doesn’t create a burden for the town.

Duty plans to donate funds to the city of Meridian, just as he had intended to contribute to Robinson’s police and fire departments.

Duty said there’s no love lost for his neighbors and Robinson city officials about the permit decision. While he wishes he would have been able to use his own land for the festival, he said he’s simply happy to have a venue for it.

If Meridian residents are pleased with the festival’s execution, Duty plans to make Bosque Bottoms Park the permanent home for the Moonlight Music Festival. But he hasn’t ruled out appealing to Robinson again for a different event on his land.

“If they enjoy it, it’ll stay there,” Caleb Duty said. “I would love to one day in the future run two events, the original one I wanted to do at my house, and then keep Meridian’s event shaped and small enough that the town still loves it and appreciates it.”

rdennis@wacotrib.com

757-5755
By Regina Dennis

Tribune-Herald staff writer

Sunday January 1, 2012

A Robinson Marine found a home for his joint music festival and veterans fundraiser, but he had to move the show to a neighboring county.

Caleb Duty, an Iraq war veteran, will hold the Moonlight Music Festival at Bosque Bottoms Park in Meridian, about 45 miles from Waco, during Memorial Day weekend, May 25-26.

Proceeds from the festival will be donated to a residential therapy program for post-traumatic stress disorder at the Waco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, as well as to local veterans’ support groups, Duty said.

Caleb Duty’s original proposal to host a festival on his family’s Robinson property met fierce resistance from neighbors.

He originally wanted to host the festival and fundraiser at his family’s 121-acre homestead in Robinson. But the idea drew sharp opposition from his neighbors on Hilltop Drive, who were concerned about noise, trash dumping, increased traffic along the winding road, and police and fire protection during the festival.

Robinson City Council in November voted down a permit to allow the festival, and potentially other community events during the next five years.

Soon after the council’s decision, Bosque County Judge Cole Word contacted Duty and invited him to consider Bosque Bottoms Park for the event.

“I really just want to let everybody know that I found a new spot, and I’m appreciative of Meridian for inviting me,” Duty said.

“It’s been nothing but open arms since I’ve been there. People have just been happy to help.”

Meridian is no stranger to music festivals. The town was home to an annual fest more than a decade ago that was produced by Larry Joe Taylor, who also runs the Texas Music Festival in Stephenville that inspired Duty’s plans.

“It’s weird having to go outsource to a different county to make this work,” he said. “But a place that wants something like this and used to have something like this, I’ll work there with them until my neighbors (embrace the idea).”

Raise awareness

Mary Duty, Caleb’s mother and president of the Heart of Texas Blue Star Mothers of America, said she is glad to see her son continue pushing for the festival. She hopes it will help raise awareness about PTSD and the challenges veterans face when they return from war.

“It’s a matter of explaining to people what you’re trying to do, and then the people show up,” Mary Duty said. “It’s a good cause, and if the cause is pure and the motives are good, you’ll never go wrong.”

Caleb Duty is holding a press conference Tuesday at the park to announce performers for the event. He already has started working with Meridian Police Officer Chris Blanton, who is helping coordinate sheriff, fire and emergency medical responders. They also visited with Meridian city staff, the chamber of commerce and other leaders to make sure the festival doesn’t create a burden for the town.

Duty plans to donate funds to the city of Meridian, just as he had intended to contribute to Robinson’s police and fire departments.

Duty said there’s no love lost for his neighbors and Robinson city officials about the permit decision. While he wishes he would have been able to use his own land for the festival, he said he’s simply happy to have a venue for it.

If Meridian residents are pleased with the festival’s execution, Duty plans to make Bosque Bottoms Park the permanent home for the Moonlight Music Festival. But he hasn’t ruled out appealing to Robinson again for a different event on his land.

“If they enjoy it, it’ll stay there,” Caleb Duty said. “I would love to one day in the future run two events, the original one I wanted to do at my house, and then keep Meridian’s event shaped and small enough that the town still loves it and appreciates it.”

rdennis@wacotrib.com

757-5755

EDITORIAL: Celebrating one local veteran’s cause

Monday January 9, 2012

Those who cherish music, the entrepreneurial spirit and the general welfare of veterans from wars old and new will take immense satisfaction in the announcement that former Marine Caleb Duty will hold his Moonlight Music Festival at Bosque Bottoms Park in Meridian this spring. It appears that even country music entertainer and songwriter Billy Joe Shaver, of Waco, could be involved in the doings, slated for May 25-26.

We’d have a hard time imagining a more picturesque setting in our area, even if it is 45 miles northwest of Waco. Proceeds from the festival reportedly will be donated to a residential therapy program for post-traumatic stress disorder at the Waco Veterans Affairs Medical Center plus local veterans’ support groups.

Duty, who grew up in Waco and served two tours of duty in Iraq, figured in one of the sadder moments in 2011 annals when he got swept up in a controversy in the city of Robinson about plans to mount just such a festival on the Duty family’s 121-acre spread on the outskirts of town. In the end, after two stormy meetings at City Hall involving plenty of citizen outrage, the town council killed the proposed permit.

Bosque County Judge Cole Word rode to the rescue, inviting Duty and his Waco-based family to consider Bosque Bottoms Park. Besides music, the festival will include a classic car show, horseshoe tournament and a barbecue cookoff to qualify regional cooks for the National Championship Barbecue Cookoff, held the fourth weekend of October also in Meridian.

Anyone who can even imagine the trials and tribulations that military personnel face in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan can’t help but celebrate that Duty is realizing both a dream and a debt of honor.

One final point about the good citizens of Robinson whose protests precipitated the Robinson City Council’s decision to kill Duty’s proposed permit. From our attendance at the council meeting, it was obvious the permit under consideration was not for one individual festival benefiting veterans but to set aside the Duty land as a venue for occasional other events over a period of time. That’s what most neighbors protested.

In any case, no one should label Robinson folks or the town council as anything less than patriotic. City leaders there have even invited Duty to return when the permit is more narrowly and specifically defined, which seems reasonable. Meanwhile, we encourage one and all to attend Duty’s festival in May, if only to see what one local veteran is capable of back home in Texas.