By CHANTELLE DEROSE
For the Express

GLOVERSVILLE — Rather than holding a day dedicated to mourning the loss of Edward Lakata, those involved with organizing the annual Eddie Music Festival chose to treat it as a celebration of his life.
A massive crowd gathered at the Concordia Singing Society in Gloversville for the fifth year in a row on Aug. 12. Despite brief stormy weather, friends and family of Lakata showed up in droves and were ready to rock.
Running from noon to midnight, the event featured 17 bands playing across two stages. Among the musicians who attended were local favorites the Skeeter Creek Duo, Third Rail and Saving Atlantis. Lakata, a local musician, was part of the upstate New York music scene for more than 30 years.
Attending the festival for the first time, Michael Lopuch, of Sacandaga Park, stated that he only knew Lakata as a Facebook friend and never had the opportunity to meet him in person. Nevertheless, his life was impacted by Lakata.
“This is awesome,” Lopuch said of the crowd around him. “I was a musician for many years. I know that Eddie would have absolutely loved this.”
Edward Harrington, of Mayfield, said he has attended the festival since its inception. In addition to attending with Lakata in mind, Harrington’s son is a guitarist who plays with local band Big Edna.
One person who is instrumental in planning the Eddie Music Festival and ensuring that everything runs smoothly is Lakata’s son, Austin. Previously held at Pine Lake, Lakata said that between 1,000 and 2,000 people usually come out to enjoy the day filled with music, food and fun.
“The money from the shirts, the souvenir table, the raffles — everything goes to the Edward Lakata Memorial Scholarship Fund,” Austin said. “Each year there are two $1,000 scholarships that are given to two Johnstown High School students who are graduating and pursuing a degree in science, mathematics, or music.”
The Dream Team, a rock band, had attendees on their feet and dancing. Playing hits from Queen, the Eagles and Wild Cherry, their high-energy set was one of many highlights from the night.
“We are here to celebrate life,” guitarist Bob Buckley said from the stage. “We’re here to celebrate friends and family.”