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Concert today from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. at DL City Park for food pantry

What started out as a few guys getting together to play music has grown into a benefit concert, with a fortunate surprise along the way.

"The guys in the band and I were sitting around and thought, 'well, we all have decent jobs, we should give back to the community,'" Mike Hokanson said.

They decided to give back in the form of the Becker County Food Pantry. Four bands will be performing Saturday afternoon and evening from 4 to 9 p.m. in the Detroit Lakes City Park bandshell.

The event is free, but organizers are asking for free-will donations of cash and non-perishable food.

Hokanson said they chose the food pantry because, when they discussed having the benefit, gas prices were going through the roof.

"The stories you hear about food pantries, people are using them more and more. With the price of gas going up, I could only see more need for food pantries," he said.

The four bands playing at the benefit includes SLOG -- classic rock, variety band, with some country thrown in there. "It really covers a wide variety." Crashing Down -- classic rock -- and soloists Tim Eggebraaten and Hokanson "cover a wide variety of stuff," Hokanson said.

He added that he and Eggebraaten attend church together and are friends, so Hokanson asked Eggebraaten if he'd be interested in the benefit.

"He's kind of a recognized name, so that might help draw (a crowd), and he was more than willing to help do it."

Richard Chelmo is guitar player for both SLOG and Crashing Down, and Hokanson asked if the band would be available, and both are now playing as well.

"We hope a lot of people show up, and we get a lot of food for the food pantry," he said.

An extra, surprise boost is coming from the Becker County Chapter of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, which received the Chapter of Excellence award last year and was given $2,000 to donate to a need in the community.

"Our goal was to spend it on the food pantry," Carolyn Engebretson said of the board's decision.

The only problem was that Thrivent couldn't initiate the donation; it could just contribute once an event was organized. When Engebretson got wind of the benefit for the food pantry, she searched until she found out who was in charge.

She found Hokanson and things fell into place from there, she said. For instance, the concert is scheduled for Aug. 30, and Engebretson said the grant from Thrivent is use it or lose it, and has to be used by Aug. 31. Thrivent will match up to $2,000 taken in at the concert.

"If they raise $1,800, we'll give $1,800. We want to use the entire $2,000 though," she said.

"That was pretty cool," Hokanson said of the Thrivent matching grant.

Hokanson said he has a number of sponsors to thank thus far, including J&B Group, KDLM and Wild 104.1 Radio, Dan Friesen Construction, Caufield Studios and audio technician Dennis Hisgun.

"For a while, I thought it would only be the family members of the bands in the audience with their soup and peanut butter, enjoying an afternoon of music. But it really seems like it's getting legs and starting to walk," he said.