‘Awake The Lake’ benefit concert this weekend

AFTON – The first-ever “Awake the Lake” benefit concert event, hosted by the Sidney Moose Riders motorcycle club, will kick off today at Echo Lake in Afton, with gates opening at noon. Patrons will be afforded live performances from some of the region’s finest entertainers, as well as biker games, mudding events in Echo Lake’s 175’ mud pit, camping, tattoo expos, vendors, and lots more, with all of the weekend’s proceeds going towards the much-needed restoration of the Echo Lake family campground facility.

Performers scheduled for the “Awake the Lake” event represent an eclectic mix of musical genres, and upwardly-mobile, regional artists. The bill features hard-rock acts Liquid Me, Brass Knuckle Intercourse, and GROT, outlaw-country mainstay Tim Ruffo, rappers Half OC, and CMJG, indie bands Holiday, and Shake Shake Shake, and a slew of other up-and-coming bands, DJs, and will even include karaoke, with sound provided by Ground Zero Productions of Sidney.

Artists Liquid Me had to convince their producer, Jeff Da Bella (Mansion Audio, Johnson City, NY), to give them a little time off from their pre-production schedule so as to prepare for, and perform in, the Awake the Lake event. “Things have been going really well, and I didn’t want us to lose that momentum,” Da Bella explained. “But, Echo Lake restoration is a good cause. My son and I need more good fishing spots, too.” Liquid Me is slated to perform at Awake the Lake Saturday at 11 p.m. Da Bella stipulates that the band is “chomping at the bit right now,” and will “rip the place apart” on Saturday night.

Saturday’s non-musical entertainment at Awake the Lake will include a variety of biker games, with registration from 9-10 a.m. Games will include Plank Race, Keg Push, Slow Race, and Egg Drop.

The “Awake the Lake” benefit event idea was born after two members of the Sidney Moose Riders motorcycle club, Jeremy Lord, and Dwayne Wright, recently brought their families to camp at Echo Lake. “Sidney Moose Riders decided to organize this weekend in an effort to rebuild Echo Lake as a local family campground again,” Lord explained.

“Awake the Lake” organizers invite patrons to “bring out the trucks and toys” for a series of mudding events on Sunday, which will take place in Echo Lake’s 175-feet-long mud pit. Patrons are asked to register their trucks, ATVs, snowmobiles, etc., Sun morning between 10-11 a.m. (ATV 2W, ATV 4W, misc. class, street class, mod class).

Echo Lake is one of the larger Lakes in Chenango County (the only privately owned lake of its size), and it is a fishing and wildlife preserve. Echo Lake became a popular get away spot during the prohibition era. In 1952, a massive development project converted the property into a campground facility, which included a restaurant, a dance hall, and a seasonal bar. Through the early ‘70s, The Echo was a frequent performance venue for many famous, touring country artists.

Recent decades have seen the Echo Lake facility fall into disrepair, however. Most recently, neglect on the part of Echo Lake’s previous leasee, culminating in a failure to complete repairs required by county and state officials, and a 2 year abandonment (and subsequent vandalism), left the facility in dire need of repair, and restoration.

Since April of this year, new operator, John Phelan, had been working tirelessly to restore Echo Lake to its previous splendor. Miles of water piping has been repaired, the lake, and the 140 acre property, has been cleared and cleaned, a new electrical system, and chlorinated water system, has been installed, repairs to roadways, lots of general landscaping and maintenance, and numerous projects on the physical plant, have already been completed. Many more related projects will soon be underway, including a roof replacement on one of the buildings, work on cabins and cabinettes, the opening of the remaining campsites, beach construction, indoor music venue and dining hall construction, and the completion of the dam. Echo Lake presently offers 35 RV and 57 tent sites, and Phelan states he intends to incorporate alternative energy and eco-friendly projects and policies throughout the facility’s continued growth.

“Awake the Lake” day-passes are $10/day Friday-Sunday. Admission to the Sat night concert event is $5. Camping is available, all weekend. For reservations and camping information, contact Phelan at 639-2666. Large groups are asked to call ahead and make reservations. Visit EchoLake607 on facebook for more information on the Awake the Lake event.

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