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Unique Fund Raiser

1st Planet Fest could raise thousands for Mars baseball program

ADAMS TWP — The Mars Backstop Club has been raising funds for the high school baseball program for years.

But nothing like this.

The first Planet Fest has been scheduled for noon to 4 p.m. Jan. 30 in the Mars High School gym. It will feature autograph sessions by David and Will Bednar, Mars graduates now pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates and in the San Francisco Giants organization, respectively. Silent and Chinese auctions will also go on, along with carnival-type games and tests of skills.

“We will also have vendors from (independent) baseball organizations there,” Mars Backstop Club vice president Brett Schultz said. “They will have tables set up and youth baseball players will have access to them they might not normally get.”

Schultz said the idea for Planet Fest came from former longtime Mars baseball coach Andy Bednar — David’s and Will’s father — during a phone conversation.

“Different community organizations have been asking David and Will for some of their time involving events they’re putting together,” Bednar said. “They both decided the first thing they wanted to do together in the area is to help Mars baseball. They wanted to give something back to that program.

“Brett and I were talking and this whole (Planet Fest) concept just developed from there.”

Besides signing autographs, David and Will are providing signed jerseys — one of David’s game-used Pirate jerseys and one of Will’s used Mississippi State jerseys from the College World Series — as part od a silent auction. Will’s CWS MVP trophy will also be on display at Planet Fest.

Signed bats from former Pirate Neil Walker and longtime major leaguer Sean Casey will also be available in the silent auction. A number of themed baskets will be available in a Chinese auction.

“There’s going to be a lot of things going on,” Schultz said. “We’re continuing to get items donated.”

He added that the Backstop Club has held a number of fund-raisers in past years, but nothing of this magnitude.

Tickets for the event are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Schultz estimates 60 people have bought tickets so far. Tickets are available by logging on to the Mars Backstop Club’s Facebook page.

“I’m anticipating hundreds of people coming to this,” Schultz enthused. “This could generate thousands of dollars for Mars baseball.”

Will Bednar reports to the Giants’ minor league camp between Feb. 10 and 15. David’s arrival date for Pirates’ spring training is unknown due to Major League Baseball’s current lockout.

“I know the boys are excited about this,” Bednar said of his sons’ participation in Planet Fest. “I imagine they’ll be doing more than signing autographs. A lot of this is still in the planning stages.”