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“The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” is screened outside as part of the Summer Under the Stars series Friday evening. The series, hosted by Bourbon Cowboy, is a fundraiser for the VFW.

Emporians had the opportunity to enjoy some old-school entertainment on Friday night with an outdoor screening of the movie “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”

The event is the first of three Summer Under the Stars fundraisers for VFW Post 1980.

For a suggested donation of $5 — free for kids — attendees enjoyed the John Wayne classic projected onto the side of the Emporia Masonic Lodge after dark.

Summer Under the Stars is the work of Bourbon Cowboy Owner Susan Brinkman.

“We were visiting with folks from the VFW earlier during lockdown, as other fundraisers were being canceled, and decided that when restrictions were lifted we would hold something outside,” Brinkman said.

The idea to show an outdoor movie was popular but it took some time to figure out the logistics. After some research and discussion, Brinkman reached out to the Emporia Masons about setting up in their parking lot.

“It’s the darkest lot in town,” Brinkman said. “And it’s 12,000 square feet, so we had plenty of room to spread out and observe social distancing. The Masons are very philanthropic; they came on board as a co-sponsor and we put the rest together from there.”

Gates opened at 8 p.m. with limited admittance to ensure people had enough room to stay six feet apart. A DJ kept the music pumping before the movie, Bourbon Cowboy set up a beer tent and Brian Mosiman set up his Grab-n-Go hot dog stand with made to order hot dogs available for purchase.

Post Commander Mike White said he appreciated Brinkman and the event’s other sponsors choosing to support the local organization as leadership works to revive VFW Post 1980. The VFW set a $75,000 campaign goal, which would cover the amount of debt owed and allow the post to work on some updates and restorations. Several planned events and fundraisers were canceled earlier this year, slowing progress on the post’s goals.

“We’re working hard to keep everything running and the bills paid,” White said. “We’ve been slow to make headway because of COVID-19 [shutdowns] but people have stepped up to help.”

Brinkman said Summer Under the Stars has a two-fold purpose: supporting the VFW and giving people something to do while observing health and safety protocols.

“We know from holding other events in the past few weeks that people take a lot into consideration when deciding whether or not to come,” she said. “They think about how they’re feeling, how people in their family feel, current county [infection] numbers, all kinds of factors. We’ve done our best to make the venue as safe as possible in hopes people will feel comfortable coming out and enjoying the movie.”

Winona Wente brought her two granddaughters, Braelynn and Addalynn, to Friday night’s event, setting up lawn chairs and claiming a section of the parking lot for her family.

“This is something to do outside in the evening, something different,” she said.

Braelynn, 9, revealed that Wente “tricked” her and Addalynn into coming.

“Grandma surprised us. I thought we were going to the store,” she said. “This is way more cool.”

Hudson Drive will perform a 7 p.m. July 17. The final event will be a screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark at 8 p.m. July 25.

More information can be found at bourboncowboybar.com

In addition to Bourbon Cowboy, Summer Under the Stars is sponsored by Big Time Grain Co., Emporia Masonic Lodge, Flint Hills Beverage and Williams Automotive.

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