The inaugural Rox in Sox Festival in Las Vegas is hoping to rock people’s socks off and maybe collect a few pairs along the way, too.
Featuring local and national artists such as Alphabet Rockers and Recess Monkey, the event is slated to debut from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Sammy Davis Jr. Festival Plaza at Lorenzi Park, 720 Twin Lakes Drive. Admission is free, but guests are encouraged to bring socks, shoes and books to be donated to local children who need them.
“We even make socks available for purchase at the door for $1,” says Aaron Smith, founder of the Rox in Sox Festival. “That way if kids want to purchase a pair to donate, so they feel like they participated, they can do so.”
Smith says the event started in 2013 in Portland, Ore., as a way to raise resources for children in Kenya and Jamaica.
“I chose Jamaica and Kenya because I have done work with children in both countries over the years,” Smith says. “It is important to me that I don’t just give a free class or drop off some instruments and then disappear. Rather we want to continue helping these communities in any way on an ongoing basis.”
The Las Vegas show will benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada. The idea is to host a family-friendly event with a variety of entertainment.
“The events always feature leading children’s musicians and authors along with other fun activities,” Smith says.
Since it began, the organization has collected more than 2,450 pairs of socks, nearly 1,200 books and 185 pairs of shoes.
The program overall has expanded. While speaking about the fundraiser for Jamaica and Kenya at a school in Portland, a teacher had a good question for Smith.
“I got called out by a teacher who asked me what we were doing for local families,” he recalls. “I stuttered over my words a little bit.”
The organization decided it should work to help local families, too, and partnered with nonprofits such as the Boys & Girls Clubs.
“The Boys & Girls Clubs do a tremendous amount in the community,” Smith says. “People assume because they are bigger and have name recognition, that they have everything they need.”
Smith says this isn’t always so. And, he adds, because they serve a large number of children, the clubs could always use more resources.
Nearly 2,000 people showed up to donate items during the first event in Portland.
As it continues to stage the event in Portland, Smith says the organization looked to spread out. Because he has connections in Las Vegas, he thought having it here would be a good choice.
“We got the OK in January to put the event on,” Smith says. “It usually takes about a year to plan the event. So we did a year’s worth of planning in three months.”
Smith is excited that Las Vegas is the first city to carry the event outside Portland. He hopes to collect at least 1,000 pairs of socks and maybe 500 books.
“If we can cross the threshold of 1,000 anything, I would be happy,” he adds.
Smith says the Rox in Sox Festival is already on the books to return to Las Vegas in 2016.
But in the next three years, he foresees the event growing beyond that. He’s looking at Brooklyn, N.Y.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Kingston, Jamaica.
“I want an event on each continent,” he says. “We will see how aggressively we can expand.”