Each year on Friday morning of the festival, RCMF conducts two children's concerts for 2,000 of Humboldt County's students. Each concert is performed by a festival headline band and serves to introduce our youth to the wonderful sounds of Jazz and American roots music in a special celebratory setting and event.
The interactive program is specially designed for school age children Kindergarten through 8th grades. 2019 marks the twenty-sixth year for the popular concerts. To date we have held 49 concerts with 53,106 students in attendance during that time. Well known festival headliner, Gator Nation (aka Gator Beat), has played for 18 of these concerts.
The Children's Concerts are the brain child of board member Lynn McKenna, a retired Eureka City Schools elementary teacher. Lynn joined the board in 1992 and her love of music and connection with the schools made her want to do something to bring music to the youth of our communities. Other festivals have various youth programs with parents bringing their kids or bands appearing in school gymnasiums but Lynn wanted to do something unique and came up with the idea of doing special free concert events and having the schools attend on a field trip.
Lynn set up a rotational system to invite schools to attend so no one was left out of the opportunity to experience live jazz and roots music in a professional setting. Humboldt County has 32 separate school districts spread throughout the region with over 80 schools so it takes about five years to rotate through this list.
Lynn has enlisted the help of retired teachers to direct traffic getting the buses and many cars to and from the concerts and to act as ushers getting the students to their assigned seats. Linda Hall and Fred Johansen, also retired teachers, join Lynn in teaching the Charleston and a New Orleans’s style parasol walk to 5th grade students at Grant and Lafayette Schools. These students perform at the concerts and Opening Ceremonies. Students from Fieldbrook, Mattole, Arcata Elementary and Blue Lake have also danced at various concerts.
These free concerts would not be possible without the support of our sponsors:
2019 - The B.P.O.E. Eureka Elks Lodge #652
2008 - 2019 - Humboldt Sponsors and the John F. Machen Memorial Fund
1996 through 2018 - Cox Communications, Suddenlink and Altice.
1995 K-Mart & Schmidbauer Lumber Co,
Redwood Coast Music Festival's Children's Concerts
2019 Sponsored By The B.P.O.E. - Eureka Elks Lodge #652