By RENEE FITE
Despite the heat and humidity Saturday evening, the Cookson United Methodist Church boasted a good turnout for its first “Music In the Park” event.
Laughter and conversation mingled with the music as about 75 friends and family members sat in the shade of large canopies of trees to support the fundraiser for next year’s CUMC mission trip to the Philippines.
Vendors at booths and a trailer arranged around the edge of the audience sold popcorn and other snacks and drinks, along with chances to win a diamond bracelet or Samsung Galaxy Tab2.
“I’m enjoying the music,” said church member Connie Foster, who volunteered to sell chances for the jewelry and electronic prizes. “We wanted the children to have a playground, so I volunteered to help with fundraisers.”
The Mark French Band was followed by Kaleb McIntire, performing original, gospel and country music.
Sitting on the front row with friends, Pat Fabrey, of Cookson, said she enjoyed watching the children play.
“We just had some new equipment installed, the children are really having fun,” Fabrey said.
Patsy and Jerry Barber of Bartlesville were visiting Cookson for the first time with Chuck and Linda Paxton, of Park Hill.
“Chuck and Linda brought us here to listen to music,” said Patsy Barber.
The couples said they were having a pleasant time and the music was good.
“We’re talking about old times,” Barber added.
Musicians entertained with charisma on a sunny stage. To enthusiastic applause, Kaleb McIntire finished his last song and thanked the crowd.
A country star on the rise, McIntire came from Nashville via growing up in the Joplin area, to perform Saturday. “Redneck In All of Us,” the debut single release from his album, “Scars,” was one of the originals he performed.
“I used to be one of those teens. People helped us, and that’s why we are where we are today, giving back,” McIntire said.
Mark French said his band was happy to support the church and fundraiser.
“It’s good to be able to support the church with music,” said French. “Jenny and I sang some originals, and we sang some gospel and country.”
When the final chord rang and the crowd said farewells, volunteers began the process of putting everything away.
Working before and during the event, Sheldon Cowart helped by doing the lettering on the outdoor banners.
“It was a good atmosphere; everyone was family-friendly. I have two little ones and that’s important,” Cowart said. “And I enjoyed the music.”
With s smile, Pastor Rudy Freese unloaded the soda pop not sold into the kitchen, tired but pleased with the success of the event.
“It’s an opportunity to provide a place for people to come out and just fellowship and hang out,” Freese said. “We hope to continue it.”