Comedy, Chords & Camaraderie with the Veterans Memorial Park Foundation

Date Posted: Sep 22, 2023

Week in the Park brings a full week of excitement to Foo Foo Fest

For more than 30 years, Pensacola’s Veterans Memorial Park has served as a spot to honor and remember our nation’s heroes, and during Foo Foo Fest’s 10th anniversary, it will also serve as an entertainment destination that connects veterans and the community. “Art, music, and laughter are good for the soul,” said Niels Andersen, a U.S. Navy veteran and member of the Veterans Memorial Park Foundation Board. “This goes for veterans and civilians, and with this week of events we hope to connect both communities through a number of entertainment opportunities.”

The weeklong grant-receiving event kicks off on November 4 with an evening of music from musical guests tied to the veteran community: Award-winning band Black Bird Anthem and Outlaw Country singer Josh Davis. Black Bird Anthem’s frontman is a decorated combat veteran, as is Davis.

Less than 24 hours later in the Park will be the unveiling of its latest sculpture, the Mariner sculpture project, and an opportunity for attendees to get in on the artistic action with some interactive art. “Plywood will be set up and people can come down and paint on it,” Andersen said. “We’re keeping to a patriotic theme, and people can draw things or write words or whatever comes to mind that’s patriotic for them.”

Tours in the Park will be held throughout the week—on November 6, 7, and 10—and further confirming that the Foundation has included something for everyone, Patriot Paws will be held on November 9. For the day’s event, participants are encouraged to dress up their dog in a patriotic theme and head to the Park for a best-dressed contest. “Patriot Paws is all about just having a good time, making new friends, and enjoying some time outside in the Park,” Andersen added.

On Friday, November 10 the Park will be the destination for all things laughter with “Laughter is Good for the Soul: Veterans of Comedy Show.” Held in collaboration with the University of West Florida, the comedy show will feature the comedy of Veterans of Comedy, a 30-plus-member team of veterans that represent all five branches of the service. The group has performed all over the world, with a mission of bridging the gap between service and civilian life through laughter. “They are great at connecting people, all people with humor,” Andersen said. “Their humor is great whether you were once in the service or have always been a civilian. They are going to be a great time.”

Culminating the week’s events in the most appropriate of ways are the events planned for Saturday, November 11, Veterans Day. The day kicks off with the Veterans Day Parade and ends with a fundraising dinner—including both live and silent auctions—and a concert featuring singer-songwriter Mac McAnnally. McAnnally was inducted into the 2007 class of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and has been recognized as the Country Music Association Musician of the Year a record 10 times. He famously was the guitarist in Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band, and he’s written songs cut by major musicians such as Alabama, Kenny Chesney, Sawyer Brown, and Shenandoah. “Without Foo Foo Fest, there’s no way we’d be able to do this,” Andersen said. “We feel a tremendous amount of privilege to have been selected for a grant to be a part of this year’s festival. We feel this mix of art, entertainment, fun, and laughter will be a great way to connect with the community.”

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