Steve Gavers loves a good party. So do 2,500 of his closest friends.
On Saturday, July 16, you can be a "friend of Steve" at the 17th Annual Gavers Barndance, held under a massive tent at Woodstock's Emricson Park.
"We are 'country' in Woodstock. This is how people met and talked in a rural era. This event is a throwback," he says. "We couldn't find a barn big enough to hold everyone, but people seem to have a great time."
Gavers, a local entrepreneur who took over the family contracting business from his father, hit upon the Barndance idea as a way to build community--and to give back after he was diagnosed with cancer 22 years ago. "I was lucky because I was cured," he says. "But I don't want anyone to go through what so many go through."
Over the years, the Barndance has raised over $6 million for cancer research.
Gavers, though, just wants people to have fun. No stuffy gala is Barndance. No rubber chicken is served for dinner. "The Barndance is just a rocking good time for one night," he quips. "The other 364 days is when the work gets done to find a cure for cancer."
For $50, "friends of Steve" are treated to live music (including a surprise special guest band), dinner, cold beer and dancing.
"What makes this unique is our relationship with Woodstock," he says. "We work with the city to make this happen. A thousand thank you's isn't enough. They put a lot of sweat and back power and there is no quit, from the mayor to the police department to parks and recs to the city administration helping--this is what we are all about."
"In Woodstock, we are all about working together to overcome a negative. We could have given up. We didn't. And we want others to believe that."
Gavers is a reflection of what Real Woodstock is about – bringing together the community with passion, creativity and charm.
"Why Woodstock? It's my home. It's where I was born and raised. Played Little League here. Spent Friday nights on the Square going to the movies. It was a time of innocence that has deep roots in me and the people here. Everyone wants to make your town as special as you can."
Says Gavers: "I am Woodstock through and through."