WeishFest: Bringing Country Music And Charity Together In Chicago
Updated: Dec 15, 2022
What happens when you combine an incredible cause, four concerts covering three genres of music, and 3,000 gracious and kind attendees? You get what’s called WeishFest. And WeishFest is no ordinary “festival”. WeishFest is a celebration of life, an opportunity to “Pay It Forward”, and a way to provide selfless donations and acts of kindness to some special, deserving families.
Photo Ethan Chivari
WeishFest is put on by the Andrew Weishar Foundation, also known as “Weish4Ever”, an organization and charity founded by Dan Weishar, the brother of Andrew Weishar. Andrew was like any normal kid who loved his family, went to school, played sports, had lots of friends, and was loved by all, and had an amazing smile and laugh. Unfortunately, in October of 2012, Andrew passed away from cancer. Andrew’s wish? “Pay forward” the acts of kindness and generosity shown to their family as he was going through his cancer journey. Weish4Ever was created to “honor this selfless request, specifically by: easing the financial burden, bringing joy, and ensuring patients and their families know they're not alone in this fight against cancer.” More from the Weish4Ever website on
“Considered to be the “nicest kid I have ever known” by those privileged to meet him, Andrew invoked goodness in everyone around him his entire life. His faith was instilled in him at an early age, as a student at St. Damian Grammar School. These years not only molded his faith, but also his character, academic superiority, competitiveness, leadership, and drive to be great. And great he was. He went on to Brother Rice High School where his legacy was further defined. In a community of thousands, Andrew shined as a student, an athlete, and most importantly, a friend to all. He was an all honors student with the highest degree of academic excellence, and a team captain as a three-sport athlete. Known for his amazing work ethic, unmatchable drive, and unstoppable determination, Andrew very humbly made his mark on the South-Side of Chicago. Graduating from Brother Rice, Andrew chose to further his academics and football career at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois. Within eight short months, Andrew’s values, kindness, and character became known around not just the football team, but the entire campus.”
Weish4Ever puts on two large events per year: The Andrew Weishar Invitational (golf tournament) and WeishFest. This year’s WeishFest was a special one, as it was the first ever sold out event. This year’s performers consisted of Morgan Evans, Mitchell Tenpenny, The Fray, and Quinn XCII. All four of them took place in a special “headliner” pre-show event with a large group of donors and fans. It was a way for the artists to really connect with the crowd, play an acoustic set, and kick off the night in a way that was uniquely intimate. Each of the artists had their own story about cancer and how it’s affected them, and then poured their heart and soul into song.
Each of the artists were so honored and privileged to be at WeishFest this year - you could just tell. In their pre-show interviews with Bobbi Dixon, a multi-year member of the Weish4Ever family, all four had special words of wisdom to share:
“I think wherever I can help out philanthropically, I love to. Like everyone, I have a story with cancer with my family and its something I relate to… (When I can be part of a night like this), it’s really special. Chicago is close to home, I am from Detroit, it’s a special night for many reasons”, said Quinn XCII.
The Fray brought their whole crew of three to the pre-show interviews, and were purely grateful for all of the opportunities they’ve been given over the past few years, so giving back is a no brainer:
“If we’re not giving back, we’re not doing our job”, said Dave Welsh, guitarist for The Fray.
When it came to the country music artists, both knew they were coming to have some fun, but knew deep in their roots that this was part of a much bigger picture, and for a cause that’s meaningful to many. For Mitchell Tenpenny, it hits home as hard as anyone:
“Anything cancer, it perks my ears up. I absolutely hate it. My mother’s going through it right now, recently diagnosed… my aunt… I’ve lost my father to it… I’ve got a lot of friends that has family members going through it… cancer, I hate it, I want to destroy it, any opportunity I can to be a part of something, I’m going to be there.”
For Morgan Evans, he realizes that not every event is going to have the history, character, and passion that WeishFest has, and he wasn’t going to be taking it for granted:
“I feel like as humans we should (give back), there’s so many offers to do charity things, but when there’s an event that has so much history… the actual family is still behind it and involved in it… it’s such a no brainer for me to say yes when I’m asked. I actually feel honored to be asked to be part of this, and it’s a pleasure to be here.”
Weishfest didn’t disappoint for any fan, donor, or friend that attended. Guests who had the “Gold” pass or higher, based on amount donated, were able to enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet, as well as an open bar. Morgan Evans sang his new song “Over For You” and opened the night with a bang. He even performed barefoot, because why not? Mitchell Tenpenny jammed his normal jams, like “Drunk Me” and “Alcohol You Later”, but he even gave the crowd his first ever performance of his new radio single “We Got History”, which was a special moment for him and his fans. The mostly 20 and 30 year old crowd was in for a treat with The Fray, and even though the makeup of the band has changed over the years, their performances of “How To Save A Life” and “Over My Head” may have been the loudest performances of the night in terms of crowd participation. Quinn XCII brought the energy up ten more notches, and he even shared a glimpse of his new song he came out with that day, titled “Let Me Down”.
In between performances was where everyone was moved to the degree that emotions couldn’t be held back. Donation checks were presented, as they are every year, to two separate families who are going through the cancer battle. Speeches were given, hugs were spread, and love and generosity was soaring throughout the air. It’s hard to recreate moments like these.
If you’re considering going to WeishFest, and are unsure, you won’t regret making the trip. The venue, 115 Bourbon Street, were spectacular hosts. The Weishar family is full of love and support. The event is magical and can’t fully be put into words. If you are looking to donate, get involved with the charity, or read more about Andrew Weishar, and the Weish4Ever family, visit www.weish4ever.org.