by Dennis Dalman
For the second consecutive time, the BankVista Rock ‘n’ Block concert was a big success in the huge parking lot to the south of Bernick’s Ice Arena.
An estimated 1,500 people attended the concert Saturday, Aug. 4. It was the 12th annual Rock ‘n’ Block, which began originally on a lot near Pine Cone Market Place in south Sartell. The Sartell Area Chamber of Commerce has sponsored the event year after year with help from other sponsors, such as the biggest sponsor, BankVista.
This time, the event was a fundraiser for the nonprofit Sartell Fire Department Relief Association.
Concert-goers began to gather as early as 5 p.m. to see and hear two bands – the Fabulous Armadillos, a rock band; and Boogie Wonderland, a 1970s-style costume band.
The Armadillos kicked off the evening with hard-driving rock ‘n’ roll at 7 p.m. just as the sun began to shine on what had been an overcast day.
This year, there was a VIP section as well as a large area where people plunked down their lawn chairs and grooved to the music, many of them jumping up to dance. The concert ended shortly before midnight.
“I thought it was a blast,” said Dr. Carolyn Urbanski. “I was glad to be part of the planning committee. Rock ‘n’ Block was such a good way to get to meet and know people from a wide area. I’m also really glad we partnered with the fire department. They always need the help.”
Urbanski, who works at Imagine Chiropractic, is a board member of the Sartell Area Chamber of Commerce. She, along with many other Chamber members, volunteered at the event.
Chamber member Tim Elness, who is a member of the Sartell Fire Department, is the one who spearheaded the idea of raising money for the fire department’s relief association. The association mainly helps put money into the firefighters’ pension fund.
Near the other parking lot at the arena, the Rock On Trucks company displayed a huge semi-truck with a firefighters’ theme to honor fallen firefighters and to raise awareness for the vital – and often dangerous – jobs firefighters do.
“It was so good to show the firefighters how much people appreciate and support them,” said Nikki Sweeter, executive director of the Sartell Area Chamber of Commerce, the main organizer of this year’s Rock ‘n’ Block. On the evening of the event, Sweeter was one of the many volunteers who made the concert possible. She had also lined up the bands and secured sponsorships.
She noted the fire department has an annual fundraiser, but this year, thanks to Elness’s suggestion, the Chamber and fire department decided to do a joint fundraiser.
“We thought it (the event) was wonderful,” Sweeter said. “There was so much energy there. People kept coming through the gate all evening. During the day, we were really nervous about the weather, but then right as the concert started it turned nice and sunny. That alone seemed to put smiles on so many faces.”
As of press deadline, there was not yet a final tally on the amount of money raised for the relief association.
Author: Dennis Dalman
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.