St. Francis Area Schools Community Education’s entertainment program the Lunch Bunch returns to the Sandhill Center For the Arts in Bethel Tuesday, Sept. 10, and runs monthly through May 12.

Founded in 2005, the Lunch Bunch, is an entertainment series for seniors and features nine shows a year, including musicians, comedians and speakers.

“The mission of the Lunch Bunch is to build a community through mutual interests and shared experiences in the arts area,” said St. Francis Area Schools Community Education Director Lisa Rahn, an organizer of the event. “The Lunch Bunch provides a low-cost option for our older adults in the area, and it includes a catered lunch and a performance. It’s offered during the day, which is easier for our older adults. Also, it’s offered closer to their homes, so they don’t have to travel to the cities to get quality entertainment.”

The events are hosted by St. Francis Area Schools Community Education and organized by the department’s Senior Advising Council. The council includes Rahn and four other members.

The Lunch Bunch is a not-for-profit event, and all ticket sales go back toward funding future events. If ticket sales don’t cover all the costs, St. Francis Area Schools Community Education helps provide funds.

Tickets for all events cost $20 and include a catered lunch and a show.

“These shows helps seniors get out of their homes,” Rahn said. “It provides an opportunity for socialization, and it gives them a hot meal. Most importantly it builds a community among the seniors in the area.”

All of the shows occur at the Sandhill Center for the Arts, at 23820 Dewey St. NW, Bethel. The gymnasium has been transformed into a cabaret with a stage, theater lighting and a sound system. Typically 50-100 people attend each Lunch Bunch show.

For all events this year the doors open at 10:30 a.m. Lunch is served at 11 a.m., and the show runs 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

“Most of the people who attend are regulars, and they line up outside the door because they want to get a good seat and they’re excited to come and socialize,” Rahn said. “It’s neat to see that.”

For the 2019-2020 season, the Lunch Bunch will host a few returning acts and some new ones.

On Tuesday, Sept. 10, the Betty Rydell Show returns to the Lunch Bunch. Rydell is a multi-talented country entertainer who plays many different instruments and sings in a variety of styles. She performs the songs of Connie Francis, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline and more.

Todd Anderson is also returning for a Crooner Christmas show Tuesday, Dec. 10. Last year, Anderson did a Neal Diamond concert, but this year he’ll be singing some of the most beloved Christmas songs. You’ll hear songs made famous by Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Gene Autry and many more.

One of the Lunch Bunch’s most popular act, Steve Marcio’s Remembering the King, returns Tuesday, April 14. Remembering the King is a family-friendly show where Marcio enjoys entertaining people with a tribute to Elvis Presley.

For the second year in a row, St. Francis Area Schools Community Education has received a $5,000 grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council to help support the Lunch Bunch concert series for older adults.

The goal of the grant this year is to bring more culturally significant shows to the series.

“I think it’s important to not only provide quality entertainment from a variety of genres to our older adults, but also to expose them to different cultures through music,” Rahn said.

This year’s performances will include the return of Native American Dance, Song and History, along with newcomers Soli Hughes’ Rockin’ through the decades and PolkaSol!.

Native American Dance, Song and History with Jerry Dearly will be Tuesday, Nov 12, during National Native American Indian Heritage month. Dearly, a Lakota Native American from the Pine Ridge Indian Tribe in South Dakota, will bring history and stories of Native Americans in Minnesota. The show will also include songs, along with drumming and grass dancers, traditional dancers and a jingle dancer.

Soli Hughes’ Rockin’ Through the Decades show will be Tuesday, Jan 14. Hear rock favorites and dance as Soli takes you through decades of twangy ‘50s, acoustic ‘60s, disco ‘70s, rock ballad ‘80s, and alternative ‘90s into the current mix of hip hop and pop. You’ll hear songs by Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Santana, The Temptations and more.

PolkaSol! will play Tuesday, Feb. 11. The group includes musicians Ann Reed, Joan Griffith and Anita Ruth, who will play polkas, waltzes and Scandinavian, Irish and French old-time songs.

There will also be a number of other shows this year.

The duo CODA will celebrate Octoberfest Tuesday, Oct. 6, with polkas, waltzes and more.

On Tuesday, March 10, Paul Imholte will present a program of traditional Celtic, American and original music. Imholte, better known as the “Stringman,” sings and plays nearly a dozen folk instruments including a hammered dulcimer, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, banjo, autoharp, cello, mountain dulcimer and jaw harp.

On Tuesday, May 10, Tom Strohmyer, or Rockin’ Woody, will entertain audiences by singing and performing various music styles all while playing a guitar, keyboards, saxophone, trumpet, flute and more. Strohmyer is also a juggler and a magician.

There will also be two speakers at Lunch Bunch.

On Tuesday, Oct. 22, Curtis Beckmann will talk about his time with WCCO Radio from 1966-1987. Beckmann will give you insights into what made the station number one among all AM radio stations nationwide.

On Tuesday, April 28, Larry Backlund, the creator and host of the Loon Cam, will share his expert knowledge on loons.

To get tickets for the Lunch Bunch, visit bit.Ly/3003jej or call 763-213-1640.


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