Even over the phone, it's evident that Kendall Hagar is smiling as she talks about a letter she recently received from a member of the Wayfaring Band. "We realize that no matter where we are going, the only thing that matters is that we’re all together,” reads Hagar, the operational roadie for the group.
The Wayfaring Band is not a typical performing band. In fact, musical experience is neither a prerequisite nor a concern for its members. Instead, the group — which comprises adults experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities, neurotypical leadership fellows and artists in residence — focuses on the act of traveling together, within Colorado, on road trips around the country, and internationally. Each trip focuses on enhancing independence and building social skills while exploring the world.
But recently, the group had to cancel a trip that had been in the works for over a year. “We started planning the Costa Rica trip in the fall of 2014 and were very excited about it,” Hagar says. “This was going to be our biggest trip of the year, taking 24 travelers when we usually only take about twenty.”
The day the group was supposed to fly out, though, their flight was canceled due to inclement weather in Texas. The problem was challenging, Hagar says, but it taught band members to roll with the punches.
“We were trying to figure out the best way to keep moving, and luckily the airline told us they were able to book all 24 of us on a flight two days later to Costa Rica,” Hagar continues, adding that they decided to make the most of their delay by seeing Star Wars and visiting the Hard Rock Cafe. “Two days later, after we sent half of our travelers through security, it became apparent that not everyone had a seat on the flight. There was nothing the airline could do to get all 24 of us out on a flight, so we had to call people at the gate back. It was obviously devastating, and we had to cancel the trip.”
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Since most of the group's funds were tied up in that trip, the Wayfaring Band is struggling to continue operations. That's why the "Grin and Baere It" benefit tomorrow is so important. “The main reason we are having this fundraiser is because of the cancellation costs of that trip,” Hagar explains. “Because of all the lodging expenses, in particular, we took a pretty large financial hit.”
Baere Brewing Company is co-owned by the brother-in-law of the band's executive director, and he has agreed to donate 25 percent of all sales on January 21 to the traveling band. Additionally, 1 percent of all sales at Baere during January will be donated to the group. “We are very grateful that our community is so tight and extraordinarily helpful,” Hagar says.
While the Wayfaring Band replenishes its wallet, the group has plans to go downtown to find new audiences; there are plans in the works for a live music and barbecue tour of Austin and sailing around the Bahamas. For more information, visit thewayfaringband.com. Or just head to Baere Brewing Company, 320 South Broadway, from 4 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, January 21.