by Mark Dryfhout
Jesse Gooch first hosted Goochfest in 1995 as a neighborhood attraction with live music and a comfortable party atmosphere among friends and neighbors.
Since 2006, the party's attendance has expanded into an annual charity event. Each year, Gooch has selected a charity to which he donates ticket sales and other proceeds.
Eventually, Goochfest's attendance and popularity grew to such an extent that Gooch's Wheatfield back yard simply couldn't hold all in attendance, and so the decision was made to relocate the party to the Lions Club.
This year, however, Gooch has insisted on returning the party home. With an attendance of more than 200 last year, and more expected to return this year, why would Gooch relocate back to his own yard? "We have it at my house for Dawn." Gooch explained.
Dawn Daigler, 35, Gooch's neighbor and friend, has been hospitalized for more than a year at Erie County Medical Center. A near-fatal accident damaged her neck, leaving Daigler paralyzed and in need of constant medical attention.
Daigler's friends and family are thankful for the miracle of her life, but the intensive health care that she has endured for over a year has laid an emotional and financial burden upon their shoulders. This is why Gooch has chosen to relocate his annual party back home, and also chose to donate all proceeds of the event to Daigler to support her long-term struggle against major paralysis.
Currently, Daigler remains hospitalized and is being treated for her neck injury. In recent visits, Gooch has seen her regain minor mobility in her hands and arms. He remains optimistic and hopes for her recovery.
Daigler has done a lot for Goochfest in previous years, according to Gooch.
"She has participated in every event. ... Dawn's supported, donated, and volunteered," he said.
After the tragic accident, Gooch feels obligated and compelled to return the support. "It's ironic how our long-time supporter needs our support now." As Daigler's neighbor, Gooch is proud to help his friend in need.
The single-day event will take place on Saturday, July 20, from 3 p.m. until midnight, at 2725 Homeyer Road in Wheatfield. Parking will be provided on one side of the road, with additional parking located at 2718 Homeyer Road.
The Town of Wheatfield will have two town constables on the premises to assist with parking. The host would like to emphasize that the event is strictly for adults (21 and older), and identification will be checked.
Tickets are $20 and can be purchased from Jesse Gooch ([email protected]). Tickets include draft beer and a door prize ticket. Questions and concerns can also be directed to Gooch, owner of Painter's Plus in North Tonawanda.
Attendees can expect to find live entertainment preformed by three local bands: River Rocks, Trippi Daniels, and headliner Strictly Hip. Food will be available, including smoked barbecue.
The event has a single-day New York state liquor permit, all other necessary permits, and will be in compliance with all noise ordinances. There will be several trained security guards on duty, as well as off-duty police officers.
"Please enjoy Goochfest responsibly, and remember that all proceeds will be donated to helping Dawn Daigler as she recovers from her injury," Gooch said.
Past recipients include: Women and Children's Hospital, Hospice, Lions Club, Niagara County Health Department and the SPCA.