Barnfest 2017 Rockin for a Great Cause


Happy Barnfest, the mantra that greeted everyone as they entered the annual charity gathering at the Schmelter property off Lobdell Road in Linden.

Barnfest is the brainchild of Linden resident Phil Schmelter. Now in its seventh year, the annual music festival held in Phil’s barn generates food donations to assist needy individuals and families in the greater Linden-Fenton area. Phil, wife Debbie, and their friends started this endeavor with a concept of giving local homegrown bands a place to showcase their talents and inviting neighbors to come listen to a night of music. The cost of admission? Bring some canned goods to donate to a local church that assists families in need and homeless individuals in the community.

The event has grown to two nights, 14 bands, a camp out on the property, and tons of food donated each year. Barnfest 2017, held the last weekend of August, drew an estimated 750 people Friday night and 1,250 on Saturday evening. And everyone was having a good time.

The Barn where the music stage is set up won’t hold everyone in attendance. But, the music spills outside to tents, tables, and chairs set up for eating. Plus the giant bonfire gives folks a place to mingle, chat, or just sit and listen to the music as it drifts out from the open barn doors. Stepping into the Barn is a must. The decorations are classic Linden-Fenton area themed. Old signs from area businesses are displayed, neon everywhere, and dozens of lava lamps top off the ambiance.

Phil guided us up the spiral staircase where we could view the scene from the balcony and get the full impact of the barn’s unique appeal.


Food and refreshments were available. You could pick up a Barnfest t-shirt and some other souvenirs from the show.

The music was great. We heard from Social Honey, a classic rock band with a little country and alternative mixed in. Each band has 45 minutes to perform and 15 minutes to clear the stage and get the next band set up. Following Social Honey, the grunge band We Die Young played a set. We Die Young is An Alice In Chains Tribute.

Of course, the charity aspect of the event is the feel good moment. The bands all play for free. Phil says there is a waiting list of 30 bands who would love to have the opportunity to perform. Canned goods and cash are donated to three area churches for distribution to families and individuals in the Fenton-Linden are who need assistance. The festival workers donate their time to help the event be a success.

Supporting a Great Cause

Phil’s goal for Barnfest 2017 was to bring in over 3 tons of canned food. As the event continues to grow, so do the expenses. Imagine having 750 people over for a Friday night bar-b-que. Phil foots the bill with some help from friends and a few local business.

With next year’s Barnfest sure to be bigger and better more local support is needed to bring this great event to our community. Best of all the foods and extra cash raised goes to support local residents who need a helping hand.


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Steve Sweitzer
Steve is the Sports Editor for the Lasco Press and highlights our coverage of the NASCAR Cup Series. Steve is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association and a nationally published author of automotive related articles for industry trade magazines. He is also a freelance technical writer and accomplished photographer. A 25-year resident of Southeast Michigan, Steve’s passion for reporting on our community, it’s residents, and our automotive connections allow us to use his skills to cover a number of events. Steve’s ability to seek out the unique behind the scenes accounts that tell the often-overlooked aspect of a story makes for entertaining reading. Follow Steve at with weekly NASCAR updates and featured articles.