WORTHINGTON, Iowa — For the second straight year, Worthington threw a party and hundreds of people showed up.

“It’s surreal, a little bit,” said Lauren Manternach, Worthington’s city clerk.

Sunday’s Benefit the Vets event featured a performance by Mark Chesnutt that drew 750 people to the memorial hall in Worthington — a Dubuque County community of 400 people.

“It’s a good event for a small town,” said Jared Zumbach, of Coggon.

Zumbach was one of a party of five friends attending Sunday’s concert.

“It’s a great thing to do on a Sunday afternoon, and it’s for a great cause,” he said.

Now in its second year, the event’s proceeds help local veterans in need.

“Last year, we raised $17,000,” said Phil Frasher, one of the event organizers.

Some of that money helped update Worthington’s Veterans Memorial.

“We also gave out $6,000 in $500 increments to needy veterans,” Frasher said. “It was to veterans all around here, not just Worthington.”

Worthington resident Kevin Boge booked last year’s headlining act, the Bellamy Brothers, and lined up Chesnutt for this year’s concert.

“We just reach out to the bands and the booking agents,” Boge said. “It helps when they’re routed through the area.”

Chesnutt played in Belvidere, Ill., Saturday night.

The Texas native produced a string of hits beginning in 1990, with eight No. 1 country singles including “I’ll Think of Something,” “Almost Goodbye” and a cover of Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.”

Chesnutt opened the show with a song that hit No. 2 on the country charts in 1994, “Goin’ Through the Big D.”

“Mark Chesnutt is a good get for Worthington,” said Paul Wachendorf, of Guttenberg. “A lot of us remember the hits he had in the ’90s.”

Worthington Mayor Gary Langel said a community effort helped prepare the memorial hall for the show.

“It’s amazing the cooperation we got from volunteers,” he said. “We had people here last night and we had people here at 7:30 this morning — right up to the doors opening. People have been supplying tools and materials — whatever we need — and everybody does it with a smile on their face.”

Organizers noticed a couple of differences between last year’s inaugural concert and Sunday’s show.

“It was easier to sell tickets,” Frasher said.

Frasher said this year, some people purchased tickets — which sold for $40 — then donated them back to organizers to be resold.

“Also, the ticket orders online seemed like they came from further away,” Manternach said.

Boge and the other volunteers want to continue giving the concerts in future years.

“We’re going to do it again — Sept. 20 of next year,” Boge said. “We’re still working on our headliner. I’ve got offers out to two different bands. It’s great, it’s a lot of fun.”

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