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It was near the end of the 2015 MSU spring semester when he thought of it. “I had this idea, ‘Why aren’t there any music festivals on campus?’ Then I was like, ‘Wait, I think that would be awesome,’” said MSU alumnus Austin M. Pabian. Pabian wasn’t the only one who thought it was a good idea. After a bit of searching, he got the ball rolling with the help of one of his brothers at Phi Kappa Sigma Fraternity. “I talked to Lee, my friend and brother in the frat. He’s involved in his own band and a theater major. He’s an entertainment guy,” Pabian said. “He was all about it.”
The only problem was that he needed funding. Philanthropy was the answer. Pabian partnered with the Capital Area Humane Society to make the festival not just about the music, but for a good cause. “The agreement that we reached with them is that they’d be out for two to three hours and they will bring animals,” Pabian said. “However long they’re out there for, we will be donating that amount of proceeds directly to them.” In the end, the whole thing worked out. “We busted our butts and worked hard and ended up pulling it off last minute the first year. All in all, the first year was kind of a flop,” Pabian said with a laugh. “But we made it happen. We were like, ‘This is exactly what we needed to do.’”
In 2016, the duo came back and decided to plan the event even further ahead of time, and there was marked improvement. “Last year, Lee knew a couple of people who are in Urban Geographer” — a Michigan company that plans music events for charity — “and we teamed up with them,” Pabian said. “We got rained out twice, and we weren’t entirely prepared for it, but by the end of the night we still had a good turnout.” That’s why this year, Pabian enlisted help from his entire fraternity and began planning for the upcoming festival immediately after last year’s event. The 2017 festival is booked up with more than a dozen musical acts — including local favorites like Joe Hertler — as well as guest speakers like the MSU women’s gymnastics team. In terms of philanthropy, it has expanded also. This year, not only will proceeds go toward the Capital Area Humane Society, but also to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Pabian is expecting more than 2,000 people to attend.
“It’s showing a lot of interest — specifically when I tell people puppies will be there,” Pabian said.
"East by East Lansing Charity Festival"
Sunday, Sept. 24 Noon-Midnight FREE/Donations accepted.
MSU Summer Circle Theatre 542 Auditorium Road, #113, East Lansing.
(517) 355-6690 exelmusicfest.com