'Concerts on Congamond' benefit Babb’s Roller Rink

By Lisa Stone - ReminderNews
West Suffield - posted Wed., Sep. 18, 2013
Relentless entertains the crowd during a recent concert. Photos by Lisa Stone.
Relentless entertains the crowd during a recent concert. Photos by Lisa Stone.

Spectators gathered at Babb’s Park in West Suffield on Sept. 15 for a fundraising concert sponsored by the Friends of Babb’s Committee.  All proceeds benefited the restoration of the historic Babb’s Roller Rink.

People brought blankets, lawn chairs and refreshments and relaxed while enjoying the music of the band Relentless and looking out at the beautiful Lake Congamond. The members of the band have been playing together for two years, but only one year ago, they added Suffield’s own Traci Mnich. “The band is awesome,” said spectator Mark Clegg. “They have been playing non-stop for three hours.”

Patti Boyer and Laura Lucchesi came from Easthampton and Northampton, Mass. “We are friends of the band,” said Boyer. “We love the band.  We would drive quite a distance to hear them play. They are a bunch of great people,” said Lucchesi.

According to a lead member of Friends of Babb’s Committee, Jerry Crane, the building is in dire need of electrical and structural repairs. “Our number-one issue right now is getting water supplied to the rink,” said Crane. “The town of Suffield won’t let us continue with any repairs until the water situation is taken care of.  This will cost us approximately $50,000. We need to raise the money through fundraising and donations in order to make that happen.”

The town leases the grounds and building to the committee for $1 a year. The responsibility falls on the organization to raise the money to make the repairs necessary to bring the water supply into the building. “It is such a beautiful building that is so full of history,” said Crane. “The 1931 building was initially used as a horse barn. After the automobile became popular, there was no need to continue using the building as a horse barn, so the Babbs family did some improvements and used it as a dance hall. Old-time greats such as Tommy Dorsey played there. It was the place to be if you were a big-time performer, since this was in between Boston and New York. The original stage is still there.  We are asking people to look into their hearts and give what they can to help preserve a piece of Suffield’s history.”

Thus far, the organization has raised and spent $250,000. There have already been many improvements made to the building, which is now protected from inclement weather. The next step is the water supply, and then the organization will be permitted to get to work on the interior repairs. Crane is hoping to receive some grant money from the town of Suffield.  “If the town gets money from the ZAK grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, I hope that they would give us enough money to take care of the water supply problem once and for all,” said Crane. “We will continue to do all we can to get this beautiful, historical property to status it deserves.”

On Sept. 29, the Rich Badowski Blues Band will be bringing the crowd to their feet from 2 to 5 p.m. Admission for this concert is $10. The Badowski Band won the Connecticut Blues Society Challenge, and represented Connecticut in a challenge in Memphis, Tenn.

For more information on the organization or to make a donation, visit www.babbsrink.org or e-mail Jerry Crane at g.crane@cox.net.

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