Beach Fest brings ‘em to the fairgrounds
SALISBURY — Labor Day weekend, Johnny Love said, is “one of the biggest last-hoorah weekends of the summer.”
And instead of braving the crowds to hit the beach, hundreds came out to the Rowan County Fairgrounds for Beach Fest.
Love, of the Rowan County Fair Association, said campers from as far away as Virginia, Tennessee and Georgia were among some 250 patrons Saturday.
The beach music festival features eight bands all weekend, culminating with a reunion of Sugarcreek at 9 p.m. today.
The festival gates open at 11 a.m. today, with the Holiday Band taking the stage at 2 p.m.
Saturday’s lineup featured the Catalinas, Tim Clark Band, Too Much Sylvia and Darrell Harwood.
Food, cold drinks and vendors of all sorts were on hand for the fans. There was a hot tub by the VIP tent, empty during the heat of the day but in use after dark.
The mid afternoon sun kept some of the shaggers off the dance floor.
But, as the Catalinas, broke into “My Lady Soul,” several couples made their way out onto the dance floor, surrounded by sand.
And it was packed at 9:25 p.m. as Harwood took the stage.
“Y’all ready for this?” he shouted, drawing screams and applause before he launched into the country hit “5-1-5-0.”
As the summer draws to a close, the Beach Fest in Rowan brings one of the last chances of the season to see regional acts.
“We don’t live close enough to see them often,” said Lucy Ray, who sat under an umbrella in a beach chair next to husband Lee Hall.
Fans of the Catalinas, Ray said they had driven from Mocksville to see the group perform.
After Too Much Sylvia’s set, vocalist Rick Lee praised the way the show had been organized.
“Everybody’s been awesome,” said Tim Clark, of the Tim Clark Band. “The folks have been awesome, the bands have been great.”
Organizers hoped for an attendance of more than 1,000 for the entire weekend.
But evening rain showers put a dent in the crowd, sending some people heading for their cars. Others toughed it out on the lawn, and were rewarded as the music resumed after dark.
The band Sugarcreek, which recorded several albums in the early 1980’s and had a run on the TV show “Star Search,” will reunite tonight for the first time since 2011’s Brick Street Live show — the third time in seven years they’ve played together, Lee said.
Members of Sugarcreek now play with four of the bands scheduled as part of the Beach Fest lineup.
Clark, who was Sugarcreek’s lead singer, said he was “tickled to death to be playing songs from six of our albums.”
Asked how they’ve changed through the years, Lee pointed to Clark and said, “I hate to say this in front of him, but he’s singing a lot better now than he was then.”
Out at the campground, fan Ronnie Hatley said he used to work with members of Sugarcreek. He, wife Janet, their daughters and their families filled two campers and spent the night at the fairgrounds.
Asked which Sugarcreek song was his favorite, he named “Rock the Night Away,” arguably the group’s biggest hit.
Daughter Lauren Cooper said she was glad to enjoy the holiday weekend without having to drive a long way.
And, for the Hatleys’ granddaughter, they’d supplied a wading pool complete with seashells.
Tickets are $30 at the gate. More information is available at rowancountyfair.net.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.