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Good music, great cause

Annual military musical festival returns with a fresh new feel

The annual Dustoff Music Festival kicks off with a three-point motorcycle ride that sets the celebratory tone of the event. Photo credit: Christian Hamilton

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Summer time is the time for music festivals; the communal vibes fueled by attendees who are gathered for a singular, unifying purpose: to celebrate, to enjoy great live performances, and in the case of the annual Dustoff Music Festival, to support a wholesome cause focused on military veterans.

Originally established in 2010 as Rock and Rally for The Troops, the Dustoff Music Festival is a flagship event of local nonprofit Operation Ward 57, an organization that provides services and programs to wounded veterans and their caregivers. This year, the event has undergone a bit of a facelift, giving both new and returning guests something to look forward to.

"Dustoff Music Festival is an annual music festival and motorcycle rally that benefits wounded, injured and ill servicemembers, veterans, their caregivers, and those that aid in their recovery through the power of music and community," enthuses Operation Ward 57 Executive Director Brittney Hamilton.

"With the growing popularity of the event, it was decided after eight years to shift the brand and lifestyle focus to reach a larger mix of supporters," explained Hamilton. "The structure of the event will remain the same -- music festival, motorcycle rally, vendors, and silent auction -- but will highlight to a wider selection of music genres such as country, blues, Southern rock, indie and more -- all under the new name Dustoff Music Festival."

The event takes place Saturday, July 6, with the motorcycle ride beginning at 9 a.m., and concert doors opening at 4 p.m. "The event is jam-packed. It starts earlier in the day with a motorcycle run (with three different starting points) that ends at Cheney Stadium before the concert," Hamilton relayed. "Then there will be six bands, including headliner Love & Theft, guest speaker Sgt. John Peck, vendors, food trucks, beer garden, photo booth, silent auction, games, activities and more! It's a great family event."

Tickets are offered at an advanced discount rate of $20 through July 5, and will be $30 at the door; children 12 and younger free. Tickets available at All proceeds from the Dustoff Music Festival will go directly towards programs sponsored by Operation Ward 57.

"This event is a chance for active-duty, veterans and civilians to come together to show their support of our nation's wounded, ill and injured servicemembers and their families," Hamilton encouraged. "The funds raised go to support the programs of Operation Ward 57, but the day itself is a chance for bonding, deeper understanding and a brotherhood/sisterhood."

Music loving patrons can rock-out knowing their funds will be used honorably, providing not only injured and disabled veterans with invaluable assistance, but providing similar resources to their dedicated caregivers as well.

"Our programs are designed to assist the servicemember lifelong in their recovery, from the moment they enter the hospital and as long as they need us once they have discharged from service," Hamilton described. "We understand that not all wounds or scars -- mental and physical -- follow a set timeline, so we are available to assist at any time regardless of how many years it has been since discharge."

"Our programs consist of providing comfort and morale items, financial assistance, peer mentorship, crisis care, case management, holiday cheer, morale boosting events, service animal support and more," lists Hamilton. "No request is too small or too big. If we are unable to provide assistance, we will do our best to help the individual locate a program or nonprofit that can."

As people begin to make plans for summertime fun, the Dustoff Music Festival should be considered as a one-stop-shop for the whole family. After all, what's better than listening to awesome music, while helping to support an awesome cause?

"With events like Dustoff we hope to help everyone understand the needs of our wounded and how they can get involved to make a difference in their community."

Dustoff Music Festival, motorcycle ride begins at 9 a.m., concert 4-10 p.m., Saturday, July 6, Cheney Stadium, 2502 S. Tyler St., Tacoma, $20 in advance, $30 at the door,

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