Dave’s And Dan’s “Grilling For The Arts” 2017 Keeps The Tradition Alive


It was the Park Ridge Fine Arts Society concert in Hodges Park on August 3, 2012 where then-Mayor Dave Schmidt and then-Ald. Dan Knight, assisted by Sue Knight and Charlie Melidosian, broke out their Weber kettles on short notice and held a barbecue to raise funds for the PRFAS.

The take that night was about $1,200, all of which went to the PRFAS because Schmidt and Knight donated all the hamburgers, hotdogs, buns, condiments and chips.

The following summer every member of the Council signed onto the event, and “Grilling for the Arts” suddenly became an established annual fundraiser for the PRFAS.

In 2014, Whole Foods demonstrated its community spirit by donating all of the food, helping the event raise $2,400. And Whole Foods has remained the principal sponsor of the event ever since.

Because of Mayor Dave’s sudden, untimely death in March of 2015, that year’s event became semi-officially known as “Mayor Dave’s Grilling for the Arts.” Led by Ald. Knight, the 2015 take was a record $4,000+.

After a down year in 2016 because of oppressively hot and humid weather that curtailed attendance, this year’s perfect weather on July 28 ushered in “Dave and Dan’s Grilling for the Arts” under the leadership of Ald. John Moran, who picked up the baton following Ald. Knight’s death last December. And the 2017 haul reportedly surpassed 2015’s record.

Perhaps even more importantly, however, this year’s edition may have institutionalized the event as a self-sustaining annual fundraiser for the PRFAS, ironically because it now has outlasted both of its co-founders – a key factor in sustainability. Although their deaths have been a double tragedy for City government and the community as a whole, in a lemonade-from-lemons fashion the continuation of the event without skipping a beat may have had some positive effects.

First, the event continues to serve as a reminder of Mayor Dave’s and Ald. Dan’s steadfast belief that, although those PRFAS concerts are a major part of the character and ambience of Park Ridge summers, as a public policy matter they  are amenities rather than necessities and, therefore, should not be funded by tax dollars.

Second, the event demonstrates how a mere dozen or so private individuals  (albeit 7-8 elected City officials), with the assistance of private businesses like Whole Foods, can significantly boost the private funding of our social and cultural amenities.

Third, it directly and immediately engages all those concert attendees – the diners and non-diners alike who donated from $1 to $100 (yes, a couple of those big bills were found in the “Donations” treasure chest) the night of July 28 – in the funding process of an event they would appear (from their attendance) to enjoy, value and, presumably, are willing to support financially.

Granted, $4,000 is just a small dent in the roughly $60,000 it costs to put on six Friday night concerts at approximately $10,000+ per concert. But if only 600 or so of the folks who attend three or four of those concerts every summer would each write just one $100 check a year to the PRFAS, the entire cost for a summer’s worth of concerts would be covered – without the need or temptation to hit up those taxpayers who don’t attend, don’t enjoy and, therefore, don’t value the these particular amenities.

Substantial private support for the PRFAS and all the other private organizations that make Park Ridge a more pleasant place to live is what Dave Schmidt and Dan Knight were trying to inspire with their efforts back in August of 2012. Hopefully, that’s the kind of support their “Grilling for the Arts” will continue to inspire for many summers to come.

And if you find yourself inspired by reading this, click HERE for a shortcut to the donation page of the PRFAS website.

To read or post comments, click on title.

5 comments so far

This is a good, thoughtful post because it gets to the heart of what “government” should do with the money it confiscates from the taxpayers, and what private citizens/organizations can do if they can raise enough funds through voluntary donations.

I go to a couple of concerts in the park every summer and donated $20 for my hotdog, chips and water at the Mayor Dave – Ald. Dan event. I could probably swing $100 a year for the PRFAS, and I would hope that enough other patrons would do likewise.

But I do not believe people who never go to the concerts should be forced to donate via their City taxes. Amenities are not necessities, although I see more and more residents who do not seem capable of telling the difference.

$4000 is still a nice amount of money for one evening. GOod job, people.

I also like how it serves as a remembrance of Mayor Schmidt and Ald. Knight.

More typical Tea Party crap from you. Schmidt, Knight and the aldermen who voted with them ruined Park Ridge with their penny pinching style of 1% government.

I for one hope that Mayor Maloney and this new council will see the error of past ways and restore our community to the wonderful place to raise a family it used to be.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Oh, so you’d like to go back to the days when the City basically had no General Fund reserves and was borrowing from its Sewer Fund just to make payroll? And when it’s bond rating was being downgraded? And when it’s mayors were engaged in winking and nodding on wrongheaded City deals and “investments” like a Peotone airport, the Uptown project, a new police station, sales tax revenue sharing, a windfall subsidy for clean-up of the old Napleton property, etc.?

The kind of “past” like in “Leave It To Beaver,” IF Ward Cleaver was running a Ponzi scheme instead of doing bank and trust work.

Fully in line with BNONYMOUS on this one. Definitely a feel good event, but those who do not partake should not be shamed into contributing or feel obligated to donate! BTW, what are the expenses absorbed by the city and park district for all of the concerts in Hodges Park? And should the city and park district be absorbing those expenses? 😉

You raise a good question about how government operates and what should be a government service versus a private one.

I would hazard a guess that nobody would go into one of our grocery stores, put a few things in their basket, and then expect to walk out without paying. But some of those same people seem to believe that they can take government services (or services like the concerts that they would like to see the City’s taxpayers pay for) without paying fair value, or anything.

Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>