By Ryan Christner
The Hutchinson News
Cue Jimi Hendrix's iconic rendition of the national anthem.
Five electric guitars adorned with patriotic and Armed Forces-inspired designs are among the highlights of a stocked auction taking place at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center on Saturday as part of the Veterans' Tribute Concert & Benefit to raise money for the planned Reno County Veterans' Memorial.
Doors open at 6 p.m. for the event, which will be emceed by Sierra Scott, co-host of "The Brett & Sierra Show" on KWCH channel 12, and features a cash bar, sit-down dinner, the live auction and a separate silent auction with more than 100 items. Music will be provided by Marcia Corey, Bob Colladay, the Hutchinson Municipal Band and the Trinity High School Celtic Singers.
Local Christian rocker Brian Davis and his band also will perform. Currently the concert chairman and a member of the memorial committee, he came up with the idea for the guitar raffle after reading an article about the memorial project and learning the committee was seeking ideas for fundraisers.
Having previously worked with Chris Mitchell Guitars of Statesboro, Georgia, on creating a custom guitar as a tribute to his mother, Davis suggested the company be used to make the military-themed instruments. Designs include tributes to the Air Force, Army, Marines and Navy, plus a fifth guitar bearing the Stars and Stripes.
To ensure the designs accurately and appropriately captured the spirit of each military branch, Davis said local veterans were consulted on the conceptual plans before the guitars were crafted.
Other items slated for inclusion in the live auction include a children's Power Wheels truck with a patriotic wrap by Lowen, a "Steel Toe Tour" at the Harley Davidson plant in Kansas City, weekend getaways, collectible firearms and sports packages, including tickets to the Kansas City Chiefs' contest against San Diego on Dec. 28, Wichita State University basketball tickets and a football signed by Kansas State University coach Bill Snyder.
"There's really a wide variety of high-end items that will be available," said Davis, who comes from a "deep-rooted" military family, with many relatives who have served, as well as close friends and acquaintances who are active now.
Organizers previously have said they hope to raise $50,000 through the benefit, which will be the first major fundraiser for the memorial. Total construction costs have been estimated at about $250,000, and groundbreaking is anticipated sometime next year near the intersection of K-96 and U.S. 50/K-61 in South Hutchinson.
Plans call for flagpoles and retired military equipment surrounding three granite panels engraved with the names of the approximately 10,000 to 15,000 Reno County veterans. World War I plaques once placed on bridges in Hutchinson also are expected to be incorporated into the final layout, after the City Council gave its permission in September.
Davis said he's been pleased at the support the memorial is receiving, and many local businesses have jumped in to sponsor the guitars and special "In Honor Of" tables. Midwest Superstore also will supply shuttle vehicles to and from the parking lot at the nearby Stringer Fine Arts Center.
"It seems like the community as a whole has come together to help make this event successful," Davis said.
(c)2014 The Hutchinson News