By Claire Salinas
Fans volleyed beach balls across the stadium, were sprayed with beer by their favorite artists, clinked cans with strangers and American soldiers were honored during Baton Rouge’s fifth anniversary of Bayou Country Superfest.
Local and national celebrities and politicians also made appearances, including Baton Rouge’s mayor, Kip Holden, Big D and Bubba, Duck Dynasty’sWillie Robertson, Miss Louisiana Brittany Guidry, Cowboy Troy and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne.
Chris Young opened the fest and sent a message with his final song “Save Water, Drink Beer,” which was echoed by many artists throughout the weekend.
Many festival attendees were looking forward to hearing two country music legends, Reba and George Strait, perform on Friday night and according to the audience they did not disappoint.
“George Strait’s performance was everything I expected and more,” said Amber Charbonnet of Ponchatoula. “He was dreamy and sounded amazing live. The moment I heard that George Strait and Reba would be there I begged my fiancé to take me.I really wanted to hear Reba sing ‘The Night the Lights Went Out In Georgia’ and ‘Fancy,’ and she delivered.”
Reba held the attention of the crowd from the moment she came on stage, from autographing one of her own posters and passing it off to a little girl in the audience to performing “Fancy” in a sparkly red dress.
The King of Country himself, George Strait, came on stage in his signature understated fashion in a button down shirt, belt buckle, cowboy hat and boots. Strait strutted onto the stage, gave a wink and had the audience on their feet for the remainder of the performance. He kept his set simple, sticking to the main stage for most of the night, and although the audience was strobed with red, white and blue lights for part of the time, he by no means relied on the fancy lights or backdrops to carry his performance.
Strait reminded us why he is the ‘King of Country’ as he crooned the crowd and kept them enchanted, even taking time to pass his guitar pick off to a little boy in the audience.
Luke Bryan’s performance lived up to expectations as he offered a generous amount of shimmying , hip gyrating and even made a few girls in the audience dreams come true when he grabbed their phones and took selfies.
Fans expressed only one unfulfilled desire after Bryan’s performance.
“My hopes for next year are to see Brad Paisley and that Luke Bryan will take his shirt off,” said Dawn Watson of Baton Rouge.
The third day of the fest was steeped with nods to Memorial Day and the United States military and veterans.
The stadium was lead in the pledge of allegiance twice, and a marine was reunited with his brother after being abroad for 17 months.
Hunter Hayes didn’t rely on his local appeal to carry his performance, but amped up his game by performing a drum line with his band.
The lineup for the evening offered appeal even to those who weren’t pure country fans.
“His [Eric Church’s] music is definitely the type I relate to the most because I’m not really that country of a person. In fact I hate most modern country music including Florida-Georgia line and Luke Bryan, but on the other hand I love live music so it’s still fun watching them put on a great show,” said Denham Springs resident Forrest Friedman.
Eric Church displayed his heavy metal country style as he rocked out with the crowd with sunglasses on, in front of a backdrop of intermittent flames.
Jason Aldean closed out the night with a performance that showed he is going to play country music his way whether you like it or not. His set opened up with the image of a cowboy hat being burned to a crisp, showing that he is not afraid to break country music tradition, and that’s what his ensuing performance reflected, as he played rock-heavy country ballads and sprayed the crowd with the foam of a Coors Light.
There were a total of 135,000 people in attendance throughout the three days of the festival, and Baton Rouge’s economy certainly benefited from the influx of business. Exact hotel sales are still being compiled at this time according to Director of Communications for Visit Baton Rouge, Katie Guasco.
Next year’s fest will be cut back down to two days and will be held May 23 and 24.