Connecting Chords Music Festival to play Dr. T.K. Lawless Park

VANDALIA — A chance to enjoy the sound of professionally-trained musicians under a blanket of stars is soon coming to Cass County.

The Connecting Chords Music Festival will be bringing live music to Cass County’s Dr. T.K. Lawless International Dark Sky Park, 15122 Monkey Run St., Vandalia, before an evening of stargazing on Friday, Oct. 16. Performing will be violinist Josh Holcomb, with an appearance by Elizabeth Start on theremin.

The music program will run from 7 to 9 p.m., and the park will remain open until midnight for stargazing. Park admission is $2 per car for Cass County residents and $3 per car for non-county residents. Donations to the Michigan Festival of Sacred Music will be accepted during the event.

In case of bad weather or excessive cloud cover, the event will move to Saturday, Oct. 17.

“Parks Director Scott Wyman set this up, and it seemed like a great idea,” said Robert Parrish, parks board member and dark sky advocate. “The parks board is on board.”

Earlier this year, Lawless Park was named an International Dark Sky Park, meaning it has met various requirements to fight light pollution and be recognized as a conservator of the night sky. To keep the designation of International Dark Sky Park, the park board must host events educating the public and raise awareness about dark sky efforts. Parrish believes the music event will help do just that.

“This is our first foray into music at the park, but I think it will draw people in,” he said. “I think it is pretty cool because, in my opinion, the artwork of the cosmos is some of the best nature has to offer. To combine that with the artwork of music will be great.”

The concert is not the only event the park is hosting to make the community more aware of the night sky. The park has been hosting night sky viewing events throughout the summer, and Parrish said the park had seen more than 1,000 visitors just for stargazing. Visitors have come as far as Missouri, Wisconsin, and even from England.

Parrish said each event is a chance to share is passion — the stars — with a broader audience.

“I just love sharing the views of the night sky with the people,” he said.

No matter what event the park is hosting, Parrish said staff and volunteers work to enforce social distancing, sanitation and other precautions to keep patrons safe and comfortable when viewing the night sky.

Parrish said he would encourage the community to attend the Oct. 16 music event to enjoy some music and the night sky safely.

“Just come out and enjoy it,” he said. “You don’t need to bring anything special. Just enjoy the night and soak everything up.”

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