The Portland Symphony Orchestra will not be performing live at the Eastern Promenade this Fourth of July, but will join a host of other musical acts in a virtual concert to benefit two local organizations fighting food insecurity. Gregory Rec / Portland Press Herald

PORTLAND — Throngs of spectators won’t be converging on the Eastern Prom this Fourth of July for the traditional fireworks and music by the Portland Symphony Orchestra, but the Portland Pops organizer has planned another sort of concert for this weekend.

This year’s Summer Fest ME will bring together close to 20 musical acts to raise money for Full Plates Full Potential and Good Shepard Food Bank. Courtesy / Summer Fest ME

SummerFest ME’s Ending Hunger At Home, put on by Shamrock Sports & Entertainment, will feature a virtual concert of local music groups over a 24-hour period July 3-4. Rather than buy tickets, concert-goers are encouraged to make donations to Full Plates Full Potential and Good Shepherd Food Bank. The goal is to raise at least $50,000.

With Portland Pops not possible this Fourth because of conronavirus restrictions, Shamrock Sports & Entertainment still wanted “to do something that would bring joy to people while supporting a great cause,” said founder and CEO Brian Corcoran.

The concert, which will be streamed online, will feature the Portland Symphony Orchestra with special guest and Gorham native Kevin Deas, an internationally acclaimed bass-baritone. Also performing will be Ghost of Paul Revere, Bell Systems, Barenaked Ladies, Amy Allen, Jonathan Edwards, Dave Gutter, Don Campbell, Anna Lombard, Dominic Lavoie, Sarah Hallie Richardson, Zach Jones, Big Daddy Gang, Maine Academy of Modern Music bands, DJ Jon, Shane Reis, JonaeSound, Xander Nelson, The Mallett Brothers Band and Pete Kilpatrick.

Performances will start at 2 p.m. on Friday on Facebook Live with featured performances on Townsquare radio throughout the two days. The finale Saturday will air on WGME from 7-8 p.m.

“We are thrilled to present this exciting array of performers to celebrate Independence Day in a unique way befitting this unprecedented time,” Corcoran said.

Justin Alfond, co-director of Full Plates Full Potential, said amidst the coronavirus pandemic the work his organization is doing is more important than ever. The coalition of community leaders, stakeholders and advocates provides grants to local school nutrition programs.

“The pandemic has illustrated the urgency and essential role that school nutrition programs play for all kids. Before this crisis, at least 80,000 kids relied on school and summer meals – now more families are experiencing economic hardship and more children are experiencing hunger,” Alfond said.

It is no different for the Good Shepherd Food Bank, Maine’s largest hunger-relief organization.

“Pre-pandemic, Maine had approximately 180,000 people struggling with food insecurity. Good Shepherd Food Bank believes this number could climb to as high as 250,000 people, should the rates of unemployment and poverty sustain at high levels,” President Kristen Miale said. “We are grateful to be one of SummerFest ME: Ending Hunger at Home’s beneficiaries.”

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