Vince’s Notes: Hot Fest for Hospice set for Sept. 7 at Lombardi Club

By Vince Chiarelli

A number of Rockford-area music venues are committed to hosting professional-level creative music. From time to time, I highlight one of the venues in my column. This week, I planned to focus on The Adriatic Live Music Bar, 327 W. Jefferson St. However, as I visited with Adriatic General Manager Dom Sawchuk, a more immediate topic emerged. Dom is one of the driving forces behind Hot Fest For Hospice, the Sept. 7 all-day fund-raising and celebration event to benefit local not-for-profit hospice providers.  Hot Fest is a wonderful event with a fascinating history.

The idea for Hot Fest For Hospice began when Doug “Boulas” Furze, Mike Coulahan (both local musicians) and Dom Sawchuk were looking for a means to recognize the exceptional services provided by hospice, especially the not-for-profit providers. Doug’s mother had hospice care, as did Dom’s wife, and both were deeply affected by the experience. (Our community lost Doug to cancer in 2009, and he had hospice care.)

Using live music as the catalyst to create an event, the Father’s Day Concert for Hospice was held in 2004. Although it was a reasonable success, the Father’s Day Concert lacked the identity to make it a memorable event. During a brainstorming session afterward, Cyndie Hall, who was then director of the Mayor’s Office of Tourism, Culture and Special Events, suggested an “Iron-Chef”-style salsa competition. Add a little spice, some heat, and a lot of hard work from a great bunch of volunteers, and a festival known as Hot Fest For Hospice was born.

Today, with the additions of Alex Romero and Dominick Squiccerrini to Concepts For Charity’s board of directors, the tradition lives on. Hot Fest has grown into a major local event, and we invite everyone to attend.

The 2013 Hot Fest lineup is exciting. Highlights include the “Iron-Chef”-style salsa competition, a hottie competition, and musical performances by nearly a dozen of the area’s favorite musicians culminating in a 9:30 p.m. performance by Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts. Gates open at 11 a.m. at American Lombardi Club, 209 Olive St., Rockford. Admission is $10.

Would you like to volunteer to help at the event? E-mail Complete details regarding the event can be found at and look for Hot Fest For Hospice on Facebook.

From the Sept. 4-10, 2013, issue

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