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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Fans line up early outside Parkview Field to secure a spot close to the stage for Saturday’s CountryFest concert.

  • Carol and Ken Henry, of Fort Wayne, try to beat the heat as they attend their second CountryFest at Parkview Field.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette Brittany WIlson, of Rushville, Indiana, sits on the tarmac after arriving at Parkview Field around noon for Saturday's concert, with the first act coming on stage at 3 p.m. With Video

Sunday, July 24, 2016 9:06 am

CountryFest fans brave the heat

Keiara Carr | The Journal Gazette

The temperature at Parkview Field had reached 90 degrees by 2:45 p.m. Saturday, and CountryFest fan Rhonda Golden and her friend, Savanna Chandler, had been keeping their spot next to the stage for almost 5 hours.

With the stage placed on top of the park’s baseball field, there wasn’t even a speck of shade in sight. Golden says they will be here until the final curtain.

"We have ice, we have cooling towels. We have sunscreen. You stay hydrated. If you drink a pop, you drink a water. You drink a beer, you drink a water. You drink something, you drink a water," she said with a laugh.

There was still plenty of seating open for K105’s ninth annual CountryFest, but with all seats, including the field, considered general admission, the most dedicated fans arrived early to claim their spots.

The concert featured Lee Brice, John Pardi, Clare Dunn, Drew Baldridge, Jordan Rager and LANco.

Dave Michaels, K105 operations manager, said some fans were waiting in line before 8 a.m. The gates didn’t even open until 1:30 p.m., he said.

"I would call them uber-country fans, I really would," Michaels said. "They will stand there and hold their spot the entire night, and if one of them has to leave to go to the bathroom, somebody else will save their space. They will hold those spots all day."

This is the fourth year for CountryFest at Parkview Field after outgrowing Headwaters Park. Michaels believed that the concert would bring in 8,000 in attendance. There could be a little more than that, but he said the heat may keep some fans away.

"The field is phenomenal, people love this place, and as far as watching a show, you can’t beat it," Michaels said. "People can spread out, they can sit in the stands, they can go on the field, if they want. People enjoy being over here."

Golden, who believed she’s been to CountryFest every year, had Chandler drive up from Corbin, Kentucky, for her first CountryFest.

"The prices are good. The lineup is always amazing. Most of the time, the first ones that are on stage will be at the merchandise table, greeting people, so you get a more intimate picture of the ones coming up," she said.

John Chandler and Chad Wyss, decked out in jeans and leaning against the railing that separated fans from the stage area, said the heat didn’t bother them much.

Both said this was their third year coming out to CountryFest.

"This is the type of music that just brings everyone together," Chandler said. "I think country music is very important for America because it just speaks about everything we go through in everyday life. It’s just really easy to connect with."

Carol Henry and her husband, Ken, sat under the shaded area of the field’s concourse, where she had placed a mini-fan next to her wheelchair.

It was her second year coming to the concert. She liked the beat and she really liked to listen to the words of the songs.

She looked at the crowd out on the field as they stood, or finally resolved to sit on the ground. All of them were turned to the stage, in anticipation of when the music would begin.

"I wouldn’t want that," she said, laughing. "No way."

kcarr@jg.net