The Spiritwood Foundation will hold its second annual “Under The Big Top” Spiritwood Foundation concert at Veterans on the Lake on Saturday, July 13. Veterans On The Lake is located 161 Fernberg Road. 

Appearing on July 13 will be Monroe Crossing, Pat and Donna Surface and American Pie – Marina Whight, and Butch Schmidt, LaPlant Road – Emily LaPlant and Liz Ashworth.

Ticket options are general seating at $25 or VIP seating for the first three rows at $35. There are 200 VIP tickets and 300 general seating tickets.

Proceeds will benefit Veterans On The Lake and the Spiritwood Foundation’s programs for seniors and veterans. 

Veterans on The Lake focuses on serving disabled veterans and their families, followed by current and retired military and families, the disabled public and families. They also serve the general public. 

The Spiritwood ‘Forget Me Not’ Foundation is an Ely-based non-profit organization committed to supporting organizations that enhance the quality of life of those afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia. Donations to the Spiritwood Foundation fund programs for veterans homes and assist other non-profits working in memory care. 

Donna Surface, the executive director of the Spiritwood Foundation said, “We are very excited about joining forces with Veterans On The Lake for our second annual event that will involve entertaining our veterans, and draw an audience from around the state. This event sold out last year. It is truly a big top event. The tent this year is even bigger, with seating for 500 people. A giant circus tent!

“By popular demand, we have Monroe Crossing again – a national act in the Minnesota Music Hall Of Fame. And our band, American Pie – Pat and I with Marina Whight and Butch Schmidt. Added to our lineup this year is the fabulous duo, LaPlant Road – Emily LaPlant (daughter of the MN State Fiddle Champion, Mary LaPlant) and Liz Ashworth, blazing mandolin and fiddle, and they play everything else with strings. 

“The evening will culminate in a show-stopping jam between us, Monroe Crossing, and LaPlant Road – and the thrill of dueling fiddles and dueling mandolins! Last year the jam brought down the house! No one wanted it to stop.”

The Surfaces started the Spiritwood Foundation when Donna’s father died of Alzheimer’s Disease in 2004. 

The Foundation raises money through artistic endeavors, and gifts these funds where they are needed. The Surfaces have also performed at nursing homes, assisted living communities, memory care facilities and veterans homes for many years. 

When COVID hit and senior communities and facilities locked down in 2020, all services and programs were suspended. These restrictions created a sad, isolated, and lonely environment, with lasting ramifications. 

When the Surfaces couldn’t perform live in senior communities, they devised a way to deliver pre-recorded performances through streaming. They saw the vision and developed the Spiritwood Senior Living Network. Through generous donations, a video recording studio was built, and hundreds of live performances have been recorded. 

Last July, the Foundation’s Spiritwood Senior Living Network Roku app launched. This is a unique streaming service specifically for senior living communities (assisted living, independent living, memory care), nursing homes, veterans homes and VA hospitals. It offers a variety channels created especially for seniors, with programs designed to engage, entertain, and spark memories.

“Under The Big Top is all about building community. We are buoyed by the support of the Ely community for this great night of music that honors our veterans. The support for this event from our community has been truly inspiring. So many of our Ely business owners are sponsoring the event. 

“They are: EBCH, Ely Area Credit Union, Ely Echo, Zup’s, Grand Ely Lodge, R&R Transfer (in loving memory of Rod Loe), Frandsen Bank and Trust, Merhar’s Ace Hardware, Ely Liquor, Lucky Boy Services, Ely Flower And Seed, Mitska’s Market, Ely’s Old Fashioned Candy Shoppe and Bloomers. Thank you!

“When a community like ours comes together for a meaningful and impactful common goal, the life connection is palpable. For our veterans, for our seniors, for the forgotten and underserved, our neighbors shift their focus outward,” said Donna Surface. 

More information on the event and online ticket sales can be found at SpiritwoodBigTop.com. Organizers expect the event to sell out again this year.

If you cannot attend but want to support this event and veterans, consider buying a ticket for a veteran. Email Donna at [email protected].





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