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Coffee House celebration helps Ligonier Valley youth

| Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Bill Pribisco | for the Ligonier Echo
Some of the founding members of the Valley Youth Network’s Coffee House are (from left) Mike Houser, the Rev. Fred Vanderhoff, Jeff Bell, Harry Condon and Lynn Keegan. This photo was taken on 10/18/2013 by Bill Pribisco at the Valley Youth Network Ligonier Bill Pribisco for the Ligonier Echo

The Community Coffee House marked its decade anniversary when it opened for the season last weekend at The Barn at Mill Creek. A wide variety of musical performers have been featured over the years at the event, which occurs monthly from October to May.

“It's been a great thing,” Kip Crumrine, executive director of the Valley Youth Network, said of the event. “It has become an integrated event in the community that people love. We have some regulars who don't miss a show.”

Live performances by artists of many different musical genres and styles have graced the stage of The Barn, located on Springer Road in Ligonier, during the last 10 years.

“I never dreamed there would be so many extremely fine musicians in our area who would love to join us,” said one of the event's organizers and occasional performer, Lynn Keegan. “The talent is outstanding. Many of the performers are paid professionals; it really is the best of the best.”

Many of the performers play acoustic guitars and sing, but bluegrass bands, pop bands, pianists and a capella groups have also played.

The Barn offers a cozy atmosphere complete with comfortable seating and flicking candles for ambience.

Coffee, tea and homemade desserts, contributed by local churches, are available for purchase during the show.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Valley Youth Network, a nondenominational organization that aims to help Ligonier Valley youth become healthy, responsible and productive members of the community.

“It's a great fundraiser for us,” Crumrine said. “It's a wonderful way for the community to learn about who we are and what we do.”

The event began after the Rev. Fred Vanderhoff, now retired, attended a similar event being held for the children of the VYN.

“I always loved folk music in a coffee house setting and I thought it would be a good idea to have an adult version,” Vanderhoff said.

Vanderhoff approached several members of his Heritage United Methodist Church congregation who he knew to be involved in performing and music, and the idea took off. Keegan and Lisa Houser became key planners of the event, coordinating artists and volunteers.

“I attribute the continued success of the coffee house to the dedicated people who continue to run it, the high quality of musicians that are booked, the willingness of the community and the churches to support the VYN and the setting the barn provides,” said volunteer Cindy Pompelia.

Pompelia said the VYN has had a significant impact on her four grown children. “I want to support the organization so that other young people can have the same opportunities,” said Pompelia, who has been involved with VYN for 15 years.

Around 100 people regularly attend the Community Coffee House, which is held the third Friday of the month and averages six to eight performers a night.

“It's a wholesome, fun, small-town gathering of people who love acoustic music in a coffee house setting,” said Keegan. The next coffee house evenings 7 p.m. Nov. 15 and cost to attend is $5.

Cami DiBattista is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.