Fort McCoy News July 10, 2015

Army of volunteers vital to annual concert

Public Affairs Office

Behind the scenes of Fort McCoy's annual Army Concert is an army of volunteers that helps make the show possible. That army is seeking more recruits.

As many as 300 volunteers are needed to put on the show, said Daryl Budda, chief of Business Activities for the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (DFMWR).

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An Army concert volunteer helps concertgoers with concessions during a past concert at Fort McCoy. As many as 300 volunteers are needed to work at the 2015 concert Aug. 15. Contributed photo

Proceeds from the Army Concert go back to the Soldiers through a central fund that is used for programs, infrastructure, equipment, and wages, Budda said. He said Fort McCoy saves approximately $20,000 in wages during the concert through volunteer support.

Karla Rynes of DFMWR is the volunteer coordinator for the concert. Rynes has been working with concert volunteers for about 10 years. "It's a good turnout. People seem to be more apt to do it because it's for the military, and they want to support the troops. … (There are) a lot (about 65 percent) of return volunteers."

Volunteers must be 16 years old. There are no physical restrictions to volunteer, but Rynes said that most jobs require standing for long periods of time.

Several concert volunteer jobs still are available. People can serve beverages in either the soda or the beer tents, sell or collect concert tickets, help direct parking, work in the will-call area handing out tickets to people who made online purchases, or help clean up Constitution Park the next day.

Rynes said volunteers especially are needed to help clean up. "You get to come in the night before for free; you just have to show up the next day to clean up," Rynes said.

Each volunteer, in addition to listening to the concert for free, receives a T-shirt and an invitation to Volunteer Appreciation Night at McCoy's for a free meal and beverages. "(The banquet) is just a time to say 'thank you' for what they've done because we couldn't do it without them," Rynes said.

Martha Gnewikow, a DFMWR employee, has volunteered for the concert almost since it began at Fort McCoy in 1997. She said when she first began volunteering, she did so because she wanted to attend the concert for free. "But then I got the point where I just enjoy going and doing it and spending the time with other people," she said.

Danen Hammersbach, also a DFMWR employee, began volunteering for the concert three years ago. Like Gnewikow, she also started volunteering because she wanted to see that year's show. "It's enjoyable to go listen and kind of entertaining to watch the people," Hammersbach said.

"I feel like I'm contributing to a (good) cause by helping out," Gnewikow said.

Hammersbach said she likes working with the general public. "A couple of years, I was in the VIP tent, and I felt kind of secluded," she said. "But last year, I worked ticket sales … and it's a lot more interactive. You get to see everybody."

Mary Hirsch-Justice of Onalaska, Wis., has volunteered for about 10 years. She said she, along with others, provides first aid at the concert.

"I enjoy providing service to others, and the bands are usually very good," Hirsch-Justice said. "It's fun. You get to meet a lot of different people. It is also a lot of work depending upon the area you are assigned to."

Hirsch-Justice had one piece of advice for workers and concertgoers. "I am always amazed at the choice of footwear," she said, recommending "a little less fashion (and) more-comfortable shoes with good toe coverage."

Rynes encouraged people to contact her if they're interested in volunteering. "It's a good time," she said. "People have a lot of fun."

This year's concert features 3 Doors Down with special guests Theory of a Deadman and We Are Harlot. Tickets are $40 until the day of the show. Day-of-show tickets cost $45. Tickets can be purchased at Pine View Campground, building 8053; the Recreation Center, building 2000; and McCoy's Community Club, building 8053, at Fort McCoy.

Off post, tickets can be purchased at the Market Bar and Fox Hole Pub in Sparta, Ace Hardware in Tomah and La Crosse, and Festival Foods in Onalaska.

Tickets also can be purchased online at or by calling 877-864-4969.

For more information about volunteering for the Army Concert, contact Rynes by phone at 608-388-4161 or by email at

For more information about the concert, call 877-864-4969.