Four years ago this month, a beautiful voice was silenced, a radiant smile lost before its time.
But out of tragedy have come a measure of triumph and the perpetuating of a love for music and the arts.
It was in August of 2008 that the community was stunned by the untimely death of Heidi Brunk in an accident at her Oakdale home, while enjoying an ‘end of the summer’ gathering with family and friends. Now, the music festival that grew out of that fateful event will spread over two days at the J-H Ranch at 12713 Sierra View in Oakdale.
Jim Brunk, Heidi’s husband, said this year will mark the first time the festival has been offered in this format. Day one, Friday, Aug. 24 will be dedicated to an evening of country, with Saturday, Aug. 25 the rock-focused night.
“I got a lot of questions the first couple of years about why we had no country music,” Brunk admitted. “I’m all about the country as well so the bands we have booked are all up and upcoming country singers and groups.”
Headlining the ‘Country Friday’ night concert will be Gloriana, whose current country hit, ‘(Kissed You) Good Night,’ is on a fast climb up the charts. Their debut single in February, 2009, ‘Wild at Heart’ cracked the Top 15 US Billboard chart of hot country songs.
“This is the next Lady Antebellum,” Brunk said of Gloriana. “For them to be in Oakdale, that’s pretty big.”
Also appearing on Aug. 24 will be Edens Edge and Walker Hayes along with selected local artists, including Randy Mandy opening the show, with the gates open at 5 p.m.
The Friday night concert runs through 11 p.m., with Gloriana closing out the night with a 90-minute set.
“People will definitely have a good time,” Brunk said.
The country music night tickets are $35 pre-sale, $45 at the gate and the popular VIP seating, with dinner, drinks, private parking and preferred seating, are available at $125 each.
With the festival being offered two nights this year, Brunk said he’s hoping to raise more money than ever for the Heidi Brunk Music Scholarship Fund, the beneficiary of the festival. That money, in turn, gets awarded to local high school graduates looking to pursue a career in music, Heidi’s first love. She performed with local bands Remedy and The Songbirds and also was involved in a variety of community endeavors in addition to working with Jim in their family business, Brunk Industries.
Ticket sales, Brunk said, are a little slow right now but that isn’t entirely out of character.
“I know people procrastinate,” he said on Friday, adding with a chuckle, “I still have to buy tickets for something I am planning to go to tomorrow night.”
Offering the first ever country music night is something he hopes the community will embrace, focusing on its country roots and welcoming the young stars of the future.
Brunk’s property at Sierra View encompasses 48 acres northeast of Oakdale, plenty of room for the stage, a 5-acre site set aside for RV parking, along with a number of food and beverage vendors coming in for the show.
“Our food court will have things like kettle corn, corn dogs, barbecued beef, the Yogurt Station is coming, there will be 10 or 11 different food vendors and a variety of beverages, from smoothies to lemonade,” in addition to wine and beer, explained Brunk.
Medlen’s caters the VIP dinner on both Friday and Saturday nights and Firenze Restaurant will provide some specialties in a poolside eating area for VIPs on Saturday night and a couple of other Oakdale restaurants, including Café Bravo, will also be showcased.
Gates on Saturday open at 1 p.m. and the music kicks off shortly thereafter, continuing through 11 p.m.
Getting the property cleaned up from the Friday night festivities in time for a 1 p.m. start up Saturday will require a coordinated effort.
“It’s a challenge but we’ve enlisted the service of a non-profit organization, PAWS, out of San Andreas,” Brunk explained.
Crews from PAWS, the Performing Animal Welfare Society, will get the grounds back in shape for the second day. PAWS serves as a haven for past animal performers as well as “abused, abandoned and retired captive wildlife” according to its website.
“They’ll be cleaning up after the show,” Brunk said of the PAWS crew moving in after the Friday night festivities to work on preparing for the following day.
Saturday’s line-up includes the music of Night Ranger, Winger, Jack Russell’s Great White, Remedy, Scarlet Machine and Scattered. Prices are $35 for general admission pre-sale, $45 at the gate the day of the show and the VIP seating for $125 per ticket.
“Saturday is definitely rock and roll, Night Ranger is the headliner,” Brunk said of the music that will feature primarily ‘80s and ‘90s rock with plenty of hits for the crowd to enjoy.
Tickets for each day are available at several locations around the region or by going online to tickets.sierraviewmusicfest.com. Oakdale locations for ticket sales are Haidlen Ford, Café Bravo, Fabulous Nails, Cow Track Lounge, R & T Power Equipment, and H-B Saloon. In Turlock, Hendrickson’s Turlock Music; in Modesto, Skip’s Music, Modesto Tent & Awning, Modesto Harley Davidson and in Jamestown, Jamestown Harley-Davidson.
“Our big thrust is the music scholarships that are given, there were two at Johansen last year, as well as one at Beyer and two at Oakdale and every year we’re trying to expand that,” Brunk said. “Our belief was that having a second night, we could make a little more money.”
The country music night might also draw in new festival attendees and help reach a wider audience.
“Oakdale is such a great community,” Brunk said of feeling confident in putting together the ambitious two-day festival.
Sponsors for the 2012 edition of Sierra View Music Fest include Haidlen Ford, Ahern Rentals, Modesto Tent & Awning, Modesto and Jamestown Harley-Davidson, Bank of the West-BNP Paribas Group and Brunk Industries.
The most recent scholarships presented through the Heidi Brunk Foundation were each for $1,000 and the two Oakdale recipients were Amy Bolme and Andrew Markel.