Concert honors Myers Park grad who died at Bonnaroo Music Festival

Chris Yoder always wanted to start his own music festival, and his dream will soon be realized.

A benefit concert will be held Saturday to honor the Myers Park High graduate who died of apparent heatstroke at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Chattanooga, Tenn., on June 12.

The music festival - called Yoderfest - will feature four bands performing at The Pour House Music Hall in Raleigh. Proceeds from ticket sales and a raffle will go toward building a house in Mexico in Yoder's honor. His family established the Chris Yoder Memorial Building Fund in June, asking that donations be made to the fund in lieu of sending flowers.

The music project is the brainchild of Yoder's friends - Chris Badders, Evan Harris and Kathryn Bowman - who met Yoder at N.C. State University, where he graduated in 2010 with a degree in mechanical engineering. They began planning Yoderfest a week after Yoder's funeral.

"We wanted to do the festival as quickly as possible. It's kind of like a coping mechanism," said Badders, 24, a former roommate. "There's really no better way to pay tribute to the kid than to do what he's always wanted to do."

Yoder worked for Horizon Engineering in Raleigh and went to concerts whenever he could - about six per month, Badders said. Yoder's dream was to start a music festival.

"When you saw him at a festival, that's when he was truly himself," Badders said. "That entire communal environment - that's what was driving him."

During the festival, organizers will distribute pamphlets with music festival safety tips.

"It's to commemorate Chris, to remember him and his love for music, but to try to do a little bit of good and spread the word about how dangerous music festivals can be," said Bowman, 24, a law student at N.C. Central University.

Yoder died of hyperthermia at the festival, where more than 1,000 people were treated for heat-related issues.

Local businesses have stepped in to support the cause. Badders said he received nearly $1,000 in gift cards and prize packages.

The four indie rock bands - Once and Future Kings, Beside the Fire, Supatight and African Buffalo - agreed to play for free. The organizers are promoting the event through Facebook, posters and word of mouth. The response has been "overwhelmingly positive," Badders said. The six-hour event has the potential to raise more than $6,000. The organizers hope Yoderfest will become an annual event.