2016 Bandfest proves succesful

held in honor and memory of the very loved, Brain T. Rusnock


“Brain was such a humble young man who befriended all and enjoyed the simple things in life especially good music, the outdoors, and relaxing with good friends and family,” said Randy Stas, Brain’s uncle, captain of the “Brian’s Brigade” Team, and chairman of the Citizens Advisory Board that puts of March for Parks.  

Brian T. Rusnock was a man loved by many, he was a lover of music and outdoors, and his death was a great tragedy to his family and many others. Rusnock was studying education at CalU when he passed away in April of 2008.

Rusnock was a graduate of Latrobe and was known for his love of the outdoors, music, and for being on Latrobe’s wrestling team. “I remember him jamming with my brothers and anyone who wanted to join late at night in my basement. He was a happy, loving spirit, always with a smile and kind to everyone. He lived his too short life to its fullest potential, never missing an opportunity to do something exciting or something he loved. Brian positively affected so many people throughout his life, and even after passing. People who may have never even met him know how special he was seeing how he is remembered by his family and friends. I am truly inspired by him even though I only knew him for a small portion of his life,” said Jarred Vasinko, Rusnock’s cousin.

A festival has been held in his honor at The Pleasant Unity Firehall for the past three years, this year the event took place on Sunday, February 21.

“I am very inspired by him, the legacy of his life after his death is so amazing. I was a kid when I was around him, since I was 8 years old when he passed away. So, I don’t remember him greatly, but everyone I know loved Brain. He was everyone’s friend, an easygoing likeable person, and one of the kindest, most caring people you would meet. Brain would always have a smile on his face,” said Maddie Stas, daughter of Randy and first cousin of Rusnock.

The event “BandFest” ran from 12-8pm and featured many different local bands all supporting Brain. The bands included “The Polish Polka Pals” with Mr. Porembka, Director of Teaching and Learning for Greater Latrobe School District, “The Abilene Band”who will have their own night at the new BrianT. Rusnock amphitheater, “East Coast Turnaround” a band that always plays with Life of Brain and is close with the family, and “Life of Brian” which consists of Brian’s cousins who wrote a song for him called “Brian’s Song”.

All of the proceeds from the event benefitted the “Brain’s Brigade” team which contributes to the 2016 March for Parks. Last year, the event raised enough money to dedicate a new amphitheater at Twin lakes to Brain. This year the  funds from the event will go towards enhancing the theater. “The amphitheater in his name is a wonderful tribute to his memory. His spirit remains now for all to enjoy at the Brian T. Rusnock amphitheater,” said Stas.

Over the summer, at the newly opened Brain T. Rusnock amphitheater will host many different bands as a part of their Summer Concert Series. “I am inspired by my family, especially my Aunt Annette and Uncle Tom (Brian’s parents), for never allowing Brian’s memory to fade,” said Vasinko.

The series is set to kick off on memorial day with Shades of June, Life of Brian, and East Coast Turnaround.

The next big event the amphitheater will be hosting is the first annual Battle of the Bandson June 11, where local ametuer bands can compete for the chance to open up for “Love Betty” on July 30.

The amphitheater truly embodies the two things Brian loved -music and outdoors- and to know that people who have as large of a passion as he did can enjoy it for years to come is the greatest reward. I can’t help but picture Brian smiling down on us while everyone enjoys the music in the park,” said Vasinko.

After he passed, some of Brian’s family originally had a team in March for Parks, where they walked and raised money to fund the Brain T. Rusnock amphitheater, and the “Band Fest”. “Brain would’ve loved this, and it is so nice that can people can now enjoy this in memory of him,” said Maddie.

“I had a thought after he passed to dedicate the amphitheater to him, so I called my sister and she was all for it. That was kind of the genesis of it,” said Stas.

“I am so proud to be apart of such an astounding thing. I think it is even more admirable that my family turned a negative into a positive by celebrating his life and giving back to the community,” said Maddie.

Once again BandFest was another tremendous kickoff to the Brian’s Brigade March For Parks team. “A measure of satisfaction is how well you retain your participants and so many of the same people from the previous year’s were back to enjoy all the genres of music. Even better, many new people that are excited about what we are doing came to participate. So, by all measurement Bandfest was another great success in 2016!”