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The Perk the Event: 20 Years of Coffee and Music

MBU staff, students and alumni prepare for the 20th annual The Perk event on Friday, Oct. 21, in Muncy Gym. This year’s event will celebrate the last 20 years with music, food and coffee.

cover-photoPhoto by Steve O’Neal

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Every year at the end of Homecoming week students gather together to enjoy a night of fellowship, music and possibly most important, coffee.

This year, The Perk The Event, a now-beloved tradition at Missouri Baptist University, is celebrating its 20th year, and it will be a year to remember.

“It really gives a chance for the alumni to come back and kinda see the different things that have happened,” said Emily Crain, The Perk coffeehouse manager. “Coffee is a thing that tends to bring a lot of people together. I think they enjoy getting to see the performers, be it the students themselves or be it someone local or someone famous, whatever the case.”

The Perk event is a coffeehouse music event that MBU’s Resident Life started back in 1996. It has had several iterations of the name, including The Perk: After Dark, The Perk: The Event and even just The Perk. This year the event takes on the moniker of “The Perk 20” in celebration of its 20th year.

“It’s turned into a tradition, it is an event that’s been going for 20 years that started organically,” said Aaron Chastain, an MBU communications graduate who is now technical coordinator for special events and last year assumed the role of lead coordinator for the event. “It gives resident students and commuter students something to do, to come together and enjoy, especially at this time in the semester. … It lets people unplug.”

This year’s Perk will take a similar format as last year, with many familiar elements, including students performing, whether it is singing, instrumentals, dance or spoken-word.

“Anybody who’s got something that they want to express and does that with a high level of excellence, that’s to me what the event is all about,” said Chastain.

Hosted in Muncy Gymnasium, which will be temporarily transformed as it has been in years past, this year will be headlined by St. Louis-based artist Kenny DeShields.

DeShields and his band will be bringing soulful R&B music with an enjoyable, upbeat vibe to The Perk.

Chastain said he hopes the event can open students’ eyes to the idea that Christian music doesn’t have to be solely worship music or only sung in church.

 “What I would like to see it turn into is a chance for people on campus to get to know some Christian musicians who aren’t just worship music, who are kinda trying to take that artform of music, really use it to advance the gospel not just in a church on Sunday morning setting,” said Chastain.

Before DeShields, Perk patrons will be able to enjoy music from A Day at War, The Pitts Family and Josh Shands, Matthew Marshall and Lane Morcraft, all MBU-based acts.

The Perk isn’t just about coffee and music. This year, attendees will be able to dunk St. Louis’ own Strange Donuts in their coffee.

If you have never been to Strange Donuts, it is a donut shop with two locations in St. Louis, one in Columbia, Mo., and a fourth location coming soon in Tulsa, Okla.

Strange Donuts has gained massive traction over the past three years for their unique events and creative, delicious donuts.

The coffee for the evening will be provided by Chauvin, which provides coffee for the physical Perk Coffeehouse, as well as MBU Brew, a custom blend developed and roasted specifically by Chauvin for MBU.

With this year being the 20th anniversary of The Perk, there will be another special twist. In addition to The Perk being a free event and having free custom coffee mugs for the first 250 students through the door, this year will also feature a merchandise booth.

Custom mugs, T-shirts, sunglasses and stickers are being printed with graphics from The Perk 20 and will be available to purchase all night long.

“The Perk event is one of the most established MBU traditions,” Chastain said. “Since we’re a fairly young university, it’s been going on for almost half of the time we’ve been around as an institution.”

And Chastain noted the crowds have grown consistently each year.

“It’s a really fun event and it’s been really well attended and the food is always really good,” he said. “The music has been great in the past and people just tend to really enjoy it.”

Crain, also an MBU graduate, added: “You get to have people come together and just be in spirit together and just have a good time.”

MBU Timeline staff member Christian Robinson contributed to this story.

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Steve O'Neal

Steve O'Neal

Steve O’Neal is a staff journalist for MBU Timeline. He is a junior majoring in communication studies at Missouri Baptist University. Steve also actively uses what he is learning to do, freelance work for creative companies and individuals in the St. Louis area. Outside of school and work, he dedicates all of his free time to his band, Years Later, and his church family at SOS Church.

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