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Rain fails to stop music festival fun
Atlantic Groove, a North Carolina band that performs various styles of music, entertains the crowd Saturday at the Hot Fun in the Summertime Beach Music Festival at Wayside Park in Stuart. (Bulletin photo by Mickey Powell)
An unwelcome visitor at this weekend’s Hot Fun in the Summertime Beach Music Festival could not stop the party.
Her name was Andrea. She was not a woman, but rather a tropical storm that rained on Wayside Park in Stuart — as well as much of the area — at times during the three-day festival that ended Saturday night.
Billed as the oldest continuous beach music festival on the East Coast, the annual event also featured other types of music, including folk, jazz, rock, blues and Americana. It was presented by the Patrick County Jaycees.
Andrea may have shown some mercy on the festival.
Rain fell much of Thursday. Kathy Lawson, who staffs the festival’s ticket booth, said the park seemed much like a “dismal swamp” that day.
However, the rain stopped right as the first band took the stage after gates opened at 4 p.m. It did not resume until after the last band finished performing that day, according to Sandra Clement, one of the festival’s organizers.
Lawson said there was a brief shower about 5 p.m. Friday, and only about 1,500 people were at the festival that night, possibly out of fear it would be rained out.
Yet performances by Darrell Harwood and The Mark Roberts Band excited the crowd and it ended up being “the best Friday night ever” at the event, Clement said.
Harwood is a country singer from North Carolina. Danny Hazelwood, one of Wayside Park’s owners, said he had not heard Harwood perform before and found him to be “very impressive.”
Lawson, a former Martinsville mayor, said rain fell at the park from about 3 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. Saturday before the sun came out and stayed out all day.
With the sunny sky and warm temperatures, “you couldn’t ask for a better day, ever,” Clement said with a smile.
About 5,000 people were at the festival on Saturday, Lawson estimated.
Accompanied by friends, Patty Shuler of Bristol was visiting the event for the first time. As she listened to Atlantic Groove perform, she said she was enjoying the festival because it has a “very warm and inviting” atmosphere with “not a lot of chaos going on.”
Furthermore, there are “no bad seats” at the festival, Shuler said — most people sit in lawn chairs on the hillside and easily can see the stage.
Other performers included After Jack, The Foddrells, Bill Pinkney’s Original Drifters and the Coastal Cruz’rs, and the Band of Oz.
Some people camp out for the duration of the festival.
With alcoholic beverages among concessions at the event, Clement said the campground rental fee of “$30 a night beats a DUI” on your driving record.
Among the campers were Lynn and Allen McGrady of Lawsonville, N.C. They have come to the festival every year for more than three decades, and they pay rent to Wayside Park to keep their small trailer there all the time.
The trailer seemed to have all of the amenities of home, including a wooden deck adorned with potted flowers an American flag hanging from a nearby tree trunk and pink plastic flamingos stuck in the ground.
Lynn McGrady said she loves her flamingos.
Camping is a good way to make friends at the festival. Lynn McGrady said every year she enjoys seeing “people I haven’t seen since last year.”
“Everybody comes by and parks (sits down) for a little while,” she said, and they cook on a grill and “have a good time.”
The festival is “a good place to get away from everything,” added Joan Shelton of Patrick Springs, who was chatting with the McGradys.
Ronnie and Deborah Amos of Sandy Ridge, N.C., also are at the festival each year.
“It’s awesome,” Deborah Amos said.
“All of them have been good,” added her husband. “There ain’t been a bad one yet.”
Clothing and a variety of food, including barbecue, funnel cakes and ice cream, were on sale at the festival.