Tomstock X, an all day music festival featuring seven local cover bands, has chosen to support the nonprofit organization, Miles of Smiles, this year.
The music festival will be held Saturday, April 1, with the gates opening at noon. The event, geared towards those 18 and older, is a BYOB festival with no pets allowed. The festival grounds are located at 10600 Sharon Drive in North Fort Myers.
Matthew Stachler, a retired fireman with the San Carlos Park Fire District, began Tomstock 10 years ago with a good friend of his, Captain Tommy Tracy.
"He used to live out east and he had a big piece of property," he said. "Ten years ago we decided to throw a big party and we decided to come up with a charity. I enjoy throwing big parties. What better way to do it than raise money for a good organization, or good person."
Since Stachler is a musician, it only made sense to put together a music festival, one which he performs at in Johnny and the Rockers.
The first event attracted approximately 75 people. The bands played on a stage, a flatbed trailer, using all the equipment Stachler could find. Barbecue pig was the food of choice.
"The second year we about double the size in the amount of people. It grew over time," he said.
About four years into the annual event, Tracy moved and Tomstock relocated to his father-in-law's property in North Fort Myers.
"We almost all the time have the food donated from local vendors. Last year we had Mission BBQ. This year we have someone donating chicken and pork and another firefighter that runs his barbecue business that will be cooking over there," Stachler said.
This year the bands include Just Thomas, Missing Minutes, Eddy off Beats, Super John, Johnny and the Rockers, High Five Friday and Bite the Bullet.
"All the bands come and play for free," Stachler said.
Kym Mason, of Island Interiors of Sanibel, said with 10 acres of property, there is plenty of room for people to pitch tents, bring their RVs and spend the night.
"It's just a really fun, laid back day. You bring your chairs, your coolers, whatever you want to drink. It's an all around great day if you enjoy music, hanging out with your friends," she said.
The event will also include T-shirts for sale, 50/50 raffle, as well as raffle prizes. Those who would like to make a donation for the cause, can do so by emailing Mason at email@example.com.
In addition, KSA Audio brings the equipment, porta potty are brought to the site and light towers are donated for when the sun goes down.
The organization, Miles of Smiles, is an equine assisted psychotherapy and equine assisted learning program for veterans suffering from PTSD. Stachler said the veterans have the opportunity to ride the horses and take care of the horses.
"Now they have expanded it to children with special needs," he said.
In past years the music festival has benefited Will Adorno, a Lehigh Acres firefighter who had a stroke will on call, Lilly Academy, Miles for Smiles, Sanibel citizen Melissa Godfrey and Sanibel firefighter EMT Carl Johanson.
"I have a daughter with autism. I think it made me more of a compassionate person when I grew older. I think you think of others a lot more," Stachler said of why they choose a different charity, or person to help, each year.
There is a $15 entry fee per person, which includes the food and entertainment. For more information, visit Facebook and search "Tomstock" or go to TomstockFestival.com.