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Walla-Pa-Looza rocks it for local cancer patients

(Josh Peckler –
Andrew Cielak, 15, of the band White Shadow from Barrington plays guitar Saturday while brother, Daniel, plays drums during Walla-Pa-Looza at the Johnsburg Community Club in Johnsburg.

JOHNSBURG – It may not garner eye-catching headliners such as the Black Keys or Red Hot Chili Peppers, but organizers of the local Walla-Pa-Looza music festival believe their cause is unmatched to Chicago’s Lollapalooza.

Next weekend, thousands will cram into Chicago’s Grant Park for Lollapalooza, the three-day rock fest that features both classic and modern bands from across the country. In trying to capture the energy of Chicago’s festival, organizers held the fourth annual Walla-Pa-Looza at the Johnsburg Community Club on Saturday.

The event featured a day’s worth of live music, food, drinks, auctions, raffles and local vendors all for the cause of supporting cancer patients. The event’s cause is truly the headliner of Walla-Pa-Looza, said Sheryl Smith, the organization’s board secretary.

“It’s important to help out the community and the families financially. They may be out of work because of their cancer, so we write them a check to help with their food or whatever else,” Smith said. “We raise all the money to just give back to people in need.”

Walla-Pa-Looza was formed as a nonprofit in 2009 after its founder, Craig Wallace, held an unruly party featuring live music at his home. Wallace decided to broaden the idea for a good cause, and the organization has held an annual music festival ever since.

The group has raised more than $100,000 during the four years of hosting the event. The money is turned over to families around Johnsburg who have been affected by cancer. The group also gives to the Centegra Sage Cancer Center and the American Cancer Society.

Suburban bands such as Libido Funk Circus, White Shadow, Dollar Giraffes, New Tattoo and hi INfiDELITY supplied a continuous stream of guitar riffs and drum beats for the festival goers.

The event included silent auction items such as autographed albums and other musical memorabilia. Proceeds from admission fees to vendor sales went to help those in the area grappling with cancer.

Organizers said they expected about 2,500 people attended Saturday’s event, a sign that shows growing enthusiasm among the community.

“This is something that isn’t going to go away, and it is going to get bigger every year,” said Nick Bionda, the group’s sponsorship recruiter. “Next year, we are hoping to maybe even double the attendance.”


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