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June 20, 2014

Thousands attend 1st day of Rock the South in Cullman

Crowds pack Heritage Park for opening of music festival

CULLMAN — Cullman native Cassandra Witt showed up two hours before the gates opened Friday for Rock the South, with a bevy of fold-out chairs and family members from Florida in tow.

“This is my third year in a row and this time we brought the kids up from Florida,” she said. “It’s absolutely amazing. We like the bands, the fun, the food, the drinks. Just everything. We’re really looking forward to seeing Phil (Robertson).”

Mother-daughter duo Robin and Cassidy Mince, from Gadsden, came out for their second year of Rock the South festivities. Though they praised the organization and line-up, Robin said there’s another big reason they decided to spend the weekend in Cullman: “You can’t beat the price,” she laughed.

Organizers kept two-day general admission prices at $49, but did introduce some higher-priced tiers with special perks this year.

 Clay Chapman and Jessica Logan made the trip over from Gadsden to attend their first Rock the South as a couple, and Chapman said they were having a great time.

“This is the best concert I’ve ever been to,” Chapman said.

The Cullman festival drew thousands to Heritage Park in downtown Friday for headliners Charlie Daniels and Little Big Town, and will continue Saturday with acts such as Sara Evans and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Cullman Police chief Kenny Culpepper said day one was relatively smooth, despite a brief thunderstorm that had fans either using their fold-out chairs as makeshift umbrellas, or getting soaked. The chance of inclement weather and additional rain is expected to continue into Saturday.

“We’re keeping an eye on the weather, but other than it’s been all good,” he said. “We’ve had some heat-related stuff and we’re staying busy, but nothing major.”

Lynyrd Skynyrd, Billy Currington, Colt Ford, Sara Evans, Drake White and the Big Fire, Dee Jay Silver, Shelbie Z and Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson are set to anchor Saturday’s schedule. Little Big Town, Easton Corbin, Charlie Daniels, Dee Jay Silver, Weston Burt, The Welch Brothers and The Springs performed Friday.

Single-day general admission tickets are $39, and two-day general admission passes are $49. Platinum, VIP and Ultimate VIP all sold out in advance.

Huntsville 20-somethings Jud Sherill and Zane Cleghorn came to the area to check out headliners Lynyrd Skynyrd and Charlie Daniels.

“We’re just looking for a good time,” Sherill said.

Robert and MaryAnn Rollins came from Harpersville to see Little Big Town. Though they said they liked the event overall, Robert noted it was a headache getting parked and making their way through the gates.

“I really like the layout and all, but getting inside was the worst,” he said.

Some attendees came a very long way to see the burgeoning country rock show.

“We brought our friends from Chicago,” Rebecca McClinton said.

Jan and John Calahurt had flown in from Chicago for the show, and joined up with friends in Cullman for the event.

“We were here last year, and had a great time,” fellow attendee Anthony Crowe said. Crowe added that the group was looking forward to a couple of acts in particular. “For sure, Charlie Daniels and Little Big Town,” he said.

‰ James Haynes contributed to this report.



‰ Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 134.

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