Jim Brunk is not one known to be frightened by challenge. That became not just known but established during the summer of 2008 after the sudden passing of his wife Heidi.
As Brunk faced a new life as a widower with two young children to raise, he did the exact opposite of what many might expect. Rather than retreat to seclusion, disconnect and shelter his family, he began a foundation to honor the life of his wife and best friend – Heidi Brunk.
Thus became the beginning of the Heidi Brunk Scholarship Foundation, a 501(c)3 not for profit, which provides music scholarships for students throughout San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.
Families honoring loved ones through memorial scholarships is not an uncommon occurrence. What is uncommon and unique to the Brunk family is the way in which he chose to do so: with a concert, but not just any concert. Brunk chose to embark on bringing well known, big name bands to the Central Valley annually by way of Sierra View Music Festival. An all-day music event, hosted on the couple’s 47-acre rural Oakdale property.
After a one-year hiatus in 2016, Brunk and his children Preston and Shelbi are ready to bring the event back to the community.
On Saturday, Aug. 12 the gates will once again be opened as Sierra View Music Fest presents “Leather and Lace,” a rock and roll line up with headlining acts Queensryche and Warrant joined by the Bullet Boys and Killer Bee. Well known SiriusXM personality Eddie Trunk will host the event.
General admission tickets are $40 in advance and $50 the day of the event. A local special has been added of buy two general admission tickets and receive one free (pre-sale only). Interested persons must call (209) 247-6069 to take advantage of this promotion. VIP tickets are also available at $125 per person which includes drink tickets and a meal. For those in search of a true posh experience there are poolside VIP tickets for $250, which is an all-inclusive experience. Those interested in either VIP package should call Brunk directly at (209) 765-5432.
For those looking to make the most of the festival experience RV parking and tent camping is also available at the JH Ranch with check in as early as Friday late afternoon with a Sunday departure. The festival begins with the National Anthem on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
“I’m hoping people just come out and have a good time and support the event,” Brunk said. “The concert is a positive energy connected to Heidi. One of Heidi’s things was everyone gives to sports. They don’t give to the arts and music. They don’t support that. That’s why we do this.”
Brunk acknowledges the effects of the backlash which came by way of negative publicity and allegations in 2015. It was an occurrence that still leaves him somewhat speechless as he tries to comprehend why someone would want to take down a non-profit benefitting students.
That being said, he also acknowledges his error as well as misperceptions which led to the allegations.
“I’m a procrastinator sometimes with paperwork,” Brunk said, acknowledging the lapse of the Foundation’s 501(c)3 status which prompted the negative publicity following the 2015 event. “There’s more to the concert than just the money aspect.”
Brunk confided that if it were just about the money, it would be easier to just cut a check from his personal business to put toward the Scholarship Foundation. The event, however, has come to mean much more than that, to him, his children, the volunteers and – he hopes – the community as well.
“This year we have no sponsors,” he said. “We need to sell tickets. We need the community support. When all that came out in 2015 I saw some negative, it hurt my kids and that made me angry. But … I also saw all the people who support us and believe in what we’re doing.”
Still, the time seemed right to step away and just take a brief break.
“It takes a lot for me to give up,” Brunk continued. “I’m the kind of guy, that I can be down but I’m going to crawl to the finish line if I have to.”
So, Brunk put it out to the kids and collectively they decided to bring it back, not just for the Brunk family, but for the students who continue to benefit from the money that is raised. Yet without ticket sales there are no proceeds to benefit those scholarships.
“They don’t know business,” Brunk said of his critics and accusers. “Not being disrespectful, but if you don’t know it costs $100,000 to get the talent to come, before the $35,000 stage systems, before the toilets and that expense … nobody gives that stuff away.”
Yet there is faith and hope, that supporters will return, money will be raised, music will be heard and a great day will be left in the memory banks of all the attendees.
“We don’t know many things,” Brunk said of looking beyond the Aug. 12 event. “What we do know is God is going to give us great people in Oakdale. God is going to give us a great day, I’m sure. Now we just need people to come out.”
For more information on the Sierra View Music Festival and the Heidi Brunk Scholarship Foundation visit www.sierraviewmusicfest.com