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HATFIELD — Those looking to witness garish performances with dazzling wardrobes do not have to travel to Los Angeles for this year’s Grammy Awards; they just need to drive to Hatfield.

On Feb. 8, the Paciorek Electric Factory on 65 D Elm St. is hosting the second year of “Big Love Little Performances” to help raise funds for the Center for Human Development’s Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Hampshire County.

According to Ann Walsh, the development and partnerships manager for the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Hampshire County, this year’s Big Love Little Performances will build upon the event’s first year with even more activities.
Described as a “Valentine-karaoke-theatrical-spectacular,” this year’s party will feature karaoke performances, tarot readings, poetry on demand, an auction, a red carpet, food, dessert and more.

“It was just off the hook for a first-year event; it was just absolutely incredible,” said Tara Brewster, the vice president of Business Development at Greenfield Savings Bank and the event’s originator. “Nobody does a karaoke lip sync fundraiser, and so it really is a magical, wild and fun event that you probably haven’t gone to before, and you probably won’t go to for the rest of the year.”

Do not get it twisted though, this is not just typical karaoke one would do after a long day at work. The people who signed up to perform dress up in costumes, practice and truly belt out the tunes they choose. In other words, these are actual performances.

“This isn’t like you’re after work, I’ve had enough to drink, so I’ll go on stage kind of thing,” Walsh said. “This is like, you have to sign up in advance, you have to have props or outfit or dedication and moves. It’s like a serious thing. People practice. Each one is like a small production.”

According to Walsh, there are people who perform that sincerely love singing and there are some people who are not great singers, but they still give it their all. Either way, the audience is always rooting them on.

“It’s just the sweetest type of event,” Walsh said.

“Big Love Little Performances” was started because of an idea Brewster had while chatting off-air with Walsh during Brewster’s radio show, “The Western Mass. Business Show.”

“During the break, being nutty as we both can be, and we were singing and it came about that [Brewster] would love to do a karaoke event,” Walsh said.

“And I was like, ‘hey, count me in.’”

Much like last year, the event is bringing together a who’s who of Western Mass. names. Brewster and Monte Belmonte, the local radio legend who now hosts and executive produces “The Fabulous 413” on New England Public Media, are emceeing the event.

According to the event page, TransHealth CEO Dallas Ducar, Joan Holiday, the program director and afternoon personality on 93.9 The River WRSI Radio; Salman Hameed, the associate professor of Integrated Science and Humanities at Hampshire College; and local performer Christiano Gazzara are all judges for the karaoke performances.

The judges will determine first, second and third place winners. According to Walsh, the judges are picking winners based on whether they had costumes or props, whether the person committed to the role with facial expressions and movements and whether the performers knew the lyrics.

“We have some amazing judges this year,” Walsh said.

Aside from the karaoke performances and other activities, the event will also feature food donated by Bueno Y Sano President and CEO Bob Lowry and appearances from Building 8 Brewery and Black Birch Vineyard.

Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan and Lowry will also be presenting the Laurel Kahn Award, which goes to community champions. Kahn, who passed away in 2016, was a board member for the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County who had a big influence on the organization and the children in the area.

This year’s award is going to Tom McGuire, a case worker since 2001 who developed UMass Kids-To-Campus program. He recently retired in September.

“Tom’s been doing really important programmatic work for Big Brothers Big Sisters for quite some time,” Brewster said. “I fully support him receiving the award.”

The Big Love Little Performances event embodies what Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Hampshire County is all about, according to Walsh; all the way down to the event’s name.

As an organization that prides itself on making meaningful and monitored matches between adult volunteers — also known as “Bigs” — and children — also known as “Littles” — between the ages of four and 18, the money raised from Big Love Little Performances will go toward supporting this one-on-one mentoring.

“Kids in our community need connection and support more than ever, especially after the pandemic,” Walsh said.

Brewster added: “I think the pandemic took a tremendous toll on kids’ and parents health…I think that the family structure really needs support and Big Brothers Big Sisters is really trying to be one of those places that just gives additional support from the community to help kids where they need it most.”

The event, which is for ages 21-and-up, will run from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Tickets cost $25 for Community Equity Scale pricing, $55 for general admission, $35 for performer registration with admission and $75 for VIP.
Readers can visit the Big Love Little Performances website to learn more about the event and pricing: https://www.runreg.com/big-love-little-performances-2024?.

rfeyre@thereminder.com | + posts