By Melody Vallieu
Country crooners Luke Bryan and Lee Brice rocked the crowd to round out 34th annual Country Concert on Saturday night.
Other star-studded headliners on Saturday included Thomas Rhett, Neal McCoy, Cole Swindell and Sammy Kershaw. These performers only topped off a weekend of more than 20 stars that also included Miranda Lambert, Florida Georgia Line and Brantley Gilbert.
Among the never-ending sea of fans were Daniel and Joanna Novotny of Columbus.
The married couple have been coming to the festival with friends for the past four years. Joanna Novotny said the group of six always camps in a borrowed camper for the weekend.
“I love country music. This concert is affordably price, and just a really good time,” Joanna Novotny, 24, said.
She said Neal McCoy, Chase Rice and Thomas Rhett had given unbelievable performances, but Luke Bryan has her heart.
“Luke Bryan is my all-time favorite,” she said. “So having him here this year was just icing on the cake.”
Daniel Novotny, 27, agrees with his wife.
“The stars and the line-up are just amazing,” he said. “We look forward to this every summer.”
The two, along with friends, said they plan to continue coming as long as possible, even after the all start their own families.
“We won’t come the years we’re pregnant, but we’ll be back after,” Joanna Novotny said.
Eric Hughes, 39, of Kalamazoo, Mich., a former Troy resident and graduate, said he has attended Country Concert for seven years, but started camping two years ago.
Hughes said he rents a camper and has it delivered to the campgrounds. He upgraded to a camper with a bathroom this year as well for convenience. Hughes said when camping, he can drink and enjoy the festival with friends without having to worry about getting behind the wheel at the end of the night.
“They come in, set it up and tear it down, too,” Hughes said of the rented camper. “It’s perfect. You can’t beat it.”
Miranda Lambert was his favorite performer of the weekend, according to Hughes.
“She’s just an unbelievable singer. And, she’s hot,” Hughes said.
Will “Willie” Jennings, 48, of Tacoma, Wash., came for a similar reason.
“I came for the party,” said Jennings, who hasn’t missed flying in for the country music festival for the past 17 years.
He said he especially enjoyed Montgomery Gentry’s performance.
“They put on a real good show,” Jennings, a Sidney native, said. “I’ve been fans of theirs from way back.”
However, he said his favorite performer over the years was Gretchen Wilson.
“She was hotter than a stolen pistol,” Jennings said, tipping his drink with a wink.
According to officials at the Sidney Visitors Bureau, the weekend’s regional economic impact is estimated to be nearly $15 million. Jeff Raible, president of the Sidney-Shelby Chamber of Commerce, also predicted approximately 10,000 more concert-goers from 2013 — at 70,000 people for 2014.
Throughout the weekend, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said they had a fairly low incident rate, mostly some underage drinking and minor rescue calls. On Sunday, a sheriff’s office spokesperson said the sheriff’s office will have weekend violation statistics available early this week.