Honoring a life through music: Music Moves Me supports local music education

Members of Music Moves Me recently presented several donations to support music education in the community, including a scholarship to Interlochen Center for the Arts and donations to local school districts. (Courtesy Photo)

ARCADIA — One of the highlights of late summer was an inaugural music festival that brought together local music, local brews and an impressive crowd of almost 800 people.

Behind all the festivities—known as the Minnehaha Brewhaha—was the local non profit Music Moves Me. The organization and festival were born out of the loss of a beloved community member, Ron Stoops, who lost his fight to cancer in April 2016.

“Ron was a music lover and we wanted to do something special to honor that,” said Dan Macek, a member of the non profit. “He was always interested in music, he had a band that he started here and continued to even just before he passed away.”

Shortly after he passed, Rachel Lowe — daughter of Ron Stoops and president of Music Moves Me — said the family began discussing how they could honor him.

“We put our heads together and came up with the idea of a scholarship for Interlochen,” she said. “We decided a great way to raise money was through a music festival. He loved his music.”

Music Moves Me recently held their first music festival, the Minnehaha Brewhaha. The festival features local music and brews, and will take place over Labor Day weekend each year. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

This inspired the development of the Minnehaha Brewhaha, and the festival was held for the first time over Labor Day. The name of the festival plays into the nautical theme of the event, and will be held annually at Arcadia Marine which was founded by Stoops.

“The Minnehaha was a four-masted wooden schooner that went down outside Arcadia, and part of the wreckage can still be seen at Arcadia Marine,” said Lowe. “That started the whole theme.”

“It rained the Friday before and all that morning, so while Mother Nature tried to sink our inaugural sailing of the event, we all had a great time,” Macek remembered.

Even with the rain that threatened the inaugural festival, Macek said the future is bright for the Minnehaha Brewhaha and the organization it supports.

“We were very pleased with the participation from local people as well as people visiting the area,” he said. “We believe that local acts deserve a spot in the limelight and that the talent we have here at home can anchor the Minnehaha Brewhaha annual community event and encourage the growth of our unique music scene.”

The festival was attended by around 800 people, and raised $50,000. The funds provided a $5,000 scholarship to Interlochen Center for the Arts, as well as $500 distributed to local school districts including Onekama Consolidated Schools, Bear Lake Schools and Frankfort Elberta Public Schools.

The school districts will use the funds to provide further music education opportunities for students.

Frankfort Elberta Public Schools will be using the donation to purchase a tenor saxophone and a baritone saxophone, and Onekama Consolidated Schools will be bringing in Hope Evans, a French horn player and teacher in northern Michigan, to perform for students and share her knowledge.

Macek said the festival was just a starting point for the organization, and they will continue to grow their reach in the community.

“We’re still in our infancy, we’re really only about a year into it,” he said. “As we get the Brewhaha off the ground, we’ll start to look at expanding what we can offer.”

A future goal is to hold instrument drives, which would benefit local music education programs.

“If there are instruments that people have that they no longer need and would like to donate to schools, students can use those and put them to use rather than collecting dust in somebody’s attic,” Macek explained. “Another thing we initially talked about was music therapy as a way for veterans to have a type of therapy through music.”

Macek said Stoops was a veteran, so using music to benefit local veterans will be a great way to tie in many sides to Stoops’ life.

“We took our tragedy and turned it into something positive,” said Lowe. “We look at it as a trifecta event: to memorialize our father and his passion for music, help promote music education in our region, and create a new event in our community to attract people to our area. We believe this is something he would be proud of.”

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