Welcome to WeishFest, a night of inspirational hope, giving, and unforgettable music. For those of you who are unfamiliar with WeishFest, imagine a night where a ticket can buy you more than live music. WeishFest welcomes you into a special family and community by sharing the story of a beloved son, brother and leader, Andrew Weishar.
From the moment I walked in, I learned so much about Andrew Weishar through his loved ones. He was considered one of the nicest people around who was a gifted athlete, a man of faith and accomplished many academic achievements. Andrew passed away in 2012 after battling colorectal cancer, a diagnosis that shook the South Side of Chicago community and set his family down a path that many are too familiar with when receiving a cancer diagnosis.
Andrew had one simple and selfless request before his passing, to “Pay It Forward.”
Pay forward the generosity and kindness he was shown during his fight with cancer. Thus, the Andrew Weishar Foundation (Weish4Ever) was born.
WeishFest immerses you into an experience of hope with strong performances by big name musicians like The Fray and Quinn XCII who shared messages of their own personal experiences during hard times and the importance of standing together in the constant battle against cancer.
WeishFest boasted a sold out three thousand attendees with a waitlist of up to five hundred plus anxious music lovers. Big name sponsors like Coors, Titos, and the 115 Bourbon St. venue all had their hands in ensuring everyone was taken care of with food and drink. The Gold Zone ticket option included buffet style servings of fried chicken, potatoes and veggies which capped everyone’s hunger, and an open bar that made sure everyone was well hydrated with refreshments. A merch stand with Andrew’s signature “Paying It Forward” messaging on shirts and hats were available for purchase, along with many opportunities to donate and try your luck with a $1,000.00 Amazon gift card raffle.
I was fortunate enough to connect with Dan Weishar, who is Andrew’s younger brother, a few days before the festival started. Dan was calm and composed during a week that could send anyone into a state of instant stress. But Dan has an incredible support system with everyone pulling in the direction of a successful evening.
WeishFest is an incredible feat of human camaraderie and hard work combined with musical talents such as country inspired acts Morgan Evans and Mitchell Tenpenny, including headlining acts The Fray and Quinn XCII.
The doors opened early to a handful of beneficiaries and family members to watch an intimate acoustic show by all of the headlining acts. Quinn XCII shared his new song “Let Me Down” featuring Chelsea Cutter, and The Fray candidly discussed their future and played classics “Heartbeat” and “How To Save A Life.” Mitchell Tenpenny spoke about how his family has been stricken with cancer and played after Morgan Evans opened up to the crowd with a song about a personal battle of his own.
Chicago Bulls radio broadcaster / White Socks In-Game Host Alyssa Bergamini kicked off WeishFest while graciously interviewing the headlining acts before the doors opened to the general crowd. Chicago Blackhawks legend Scott Darling and Jeremiah Paprocki who is the Chicago Cubs stadium announcer were also in attendance to support the festival.
Overall, WeishFest genuinely moved me more than I had expected. From the donation checks that were presented to two separate families who are going through their own battles against cancer, and the growing feeling of unity throughout the night, WeishFest is a night I hope everyone can experience and participate in at least once. The energy produced by all of the musical acts compounded with the unique indoor festival environment truly created an unforgettable experience.
If you are looking to get involved, please consider heading to www.weish4ever.org/donate, participate in their online style auction, or simply share the Weishar family’s mission and Andrew’s story.
Photography by: Good Boy Digital Originals