Since taking over as Commander of the Grover King VFW Post 1115 in Hillsville, Marty Rivera said he’s tried to emphasize that the VFW is a place for the community.
Now that Rivera’s message seems to have been received, the post is moving to phase II – bringing back a lot of family gatherings to the Hillsville facility. Phase II got underway with a bang January 28 as critically-acclaimed bluegrass/gospel band The Church Sisters performed at the Hillsville VFW in front of a large audience. The show was such a hit, the local VFW post plans to host another concert in March with Wayne Henderson and the Virginia Luthiers.
‘It was a great success. We had quite the turnout, close to 300 people who showed up,” Rivera said of The Church Sisters’ concert. “And we really didn’t advertise it much in advance. We had it on the internet and Facebook and enough people saw it we had folks calling from Ohio, South Carolina and Tennessee wanting to get tickets. And at $10 a head, it was quite a success.”
Rivera said the Grover King VFW Post 1115 is looking at ways to diversify its revenue in continued efforts to serve the public. A conversation with Spencer Strickland, who is married to one of The Church Sisters, about good ideas for benefits led to the big concert.
“He said you need to attract some people to the venue and show people it could hold such an activity. And he said, ‘Have you met my wife? She is part of The Church Sisters.’ As we were talking we decided to go ahead and try it as something to do for the winter,” Rivera said. “People get in their homes during the winter, get cabin fever, and there is not a lot to do during wintertime. So we decided to try it for January 28 and it was tremendous. Once it hit online and then in the paper, the phone calls starting coming left and right and we starting selling tickets left and right. It was a good family evening with families, couples, younger kids, just a good variety of family people coming and enjoying music from The Church Sisters.”
In fact, the January concert was so popular Rivera said the VFW is already in the process of trying to schedule the band for an encore performance at some point in 2017. Meanwhile, Rivera said Wayne Henderson happened to be at The Church Sisters’ concert. While there, Strickland introduced Henderson to Rivera, setting the stage for Wayne Henderson and the Virginia Luthiers’ upcoming March 11 concert at the Hillsville VFW. Doors will open at 6 p.m. that day and curtain time will be 7 p.m.
“He (Wayne Henderson) said they would love to come do a concert at the VFW. He said it had been years since anybody has really done concerts at the VFW,” Rivera said. “And we are trying to get back into the old-time, getting-together, family, community-oriented things. I have introduced it to the community that the VFW is there for them. This is phase II for me, bringing back a lot of family gatherings. We would eventually like to do an outdoor event where people can sit in lawn chairs and enjoy the music and have fun.”
Rivera said the concerts serve as fundraisers for the VFW post, which in turn allows the post to give more money back to the community. Additionally, Rivera said the more events the VFW post has, the more it brings people to Hillsville, helping boost the local economy and potentially helping the Town’s ability to gain more grants.
“We just want to do our part to help with community events. They are fundraisers for us, but also events to help give back to the community,” the VFW Post Commander said. “The new Bingos have been going really good for us. It’s steadily growing and it’s another way of diversifying our revenue and giving the community something else to do, more good, clean, fun events.”
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN