After missing out on 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Red White & Blue Festival returned to Mountain Home, attracting thousands of people.
World-renowned, multi-platinum country band Lonestar, who were originally scheduled to perform a private show for the North Arkansas Electric Cooperative’s annual event at the Arkansas State University – Mountain Home, was on Friday night on Friday night.
âI was worried because it was supposed to be a private show, to begin with,â said backing vocalist and keyboardist Dean Sams. âAnd then when that changed, I guess because of COVID they turned into this free concert for the community, which I find very awesome, by the way. “
The group performed hit classics like “Lonely Grill”, “Amazed” and “I’m Already There” in front of a crowd of around 6,000 on the hills of the ASU-Mountain Home campus. The concert marks a return to touring after the year-long nationwide lockdown.
âIt has been a very depressing time for musicians and everyone in the restaurant industry,â said singer and guitarist Drew Womack. âEveryone has suffered so much. There was no window. There was no end. We didn’t know when it was going to end. When it all started to open up and people were able to come out and enjoy each other’s company again, the energy, you know. The best medicine on earth is the energy we feel from the crowd. It is good for our health.
Lonestar’s Friday concert was followed by The Kattie Laney Project and The Melodikats on Saturday night as an introduction to the festival’s 19-minute fireworks show. Both groups performed for the festival three years before the pandemic shut down last year’s festival.
“We’re happy to be back,” said singer and keyboardist Eddy King Melodikats. “We’ve played this event before and haven’t been there for three or four seasons, and it’s nice to be back.”
The bands performed in front of a large crowd before Red White & Blue Festival founder Patrick Ballard took the stage to help Carter’s Jewel Chest owner Beth Carter reveal the winning ticket to the Jewel’s For You jewelry raffle.
Ballard said his love for fireworks began as a child, which led to him obtaining a personal fireworks license as an adult. Her love and passion for blowing things up in the sky came to a head in 1999 after discussing a potential fireworks display for Mountain Home with her children.
The festival was born.
âI’ve been setting off fireworks since I was a kid,â Ballard said. âWhen I was a kid we started coming here to watch the fireworks when I was five years old. I learned from Galaxy, they taught me how to do them and I got the permit. solid steel sunk three feet into the ground. “
Ballard said this year’s fireworks display was the best the festival has ever had, with between 15,000 and 20,000 people attending the Saturday show.
While Ballard used simple steel pipes on his property, the festival’s fireworks display went fully digital with the help of Randy Keller and AM Pyrotechnics.
Using US-made fireworks, the digitized system launches synchronized fireworks mortars into the air.
âIt used to be pin,â Keller said. “And we would have them all in a group. As you can see now, these things stretch out for 700 feet. Everything is done wirelessly.”
Keller has been setting off fireworks for Mountain’s Home’s big summer festival for 14 years. He said Saturday night’s show would be the last to make way for a new generation of fireworks technicians.
While the free concert and Lonestar fireworks display may have caught the attention of the crowds during the evening, the festival was packed with other events over its two days.
The festival officially kicked off with a parade on Friday that began at Baxter Regional Medical Center before moving into the downtown Mountain Home entertainment district. Children grabbed candy as hot rods and horses passed the Veteran’s Plaza and the Baxter County Courthouse in the parade.
âWe came here just for this event,â said Caleb Billberry, originally from Dallas, TX, and brother of Brandy Jordan, a local Mountain Home resident. âShe said it was the best festival in North Arkansas. I thought it was fun. The girls really liked it.
Following the parade, festival-goers headed to the ASU-Mountain Home campus for Bad Habits & Cruisers of Mountain Home Car Show with rows of classic and modern muscle cars, including Tommy Slaughter and his 1925 Hudson classic.
âI bought it brand new,â Slaughter told a raving crowd.
Once the families got through the auto show, they were able to treat themselves to snow cones from a food truck owned by Mark and Shelly Hostetler. Crayfish from the Cowboys Crawfish truck were also available with fresh squeezed lemonade from Vickie’s Kitchen.
The festival also had its sweet moments, with the kids meeting Marshall from Nick Jr.’s Paw Patrol before sitting down and reading a book with the parents for the Baxter County Literacy Project gift card giveaway. .
At other times, some have had the opportunity to strengthen their faith while helping others.
âWe are geared towards the homeless,â said Raymond Moore of Hope for All, a faith-based organization that focuses on helping the homeless. âWe try to help the veterans as much as we can. We are involved in the veterans community. We’re here to advertise what we’re doing, trying to let the community know that there are people in need.
As Lonestar entertained the crowd on Friday night, Mountain Home Mayor Hillrey Adams oversaw fierce preparation for the Steak Cookoff Association. The SCA is one of the fastest growing culinary associations in the world and annually organizes more than 600 events around the world.
The competitor Grand Champion BBQ & Steak, All “Q’ued” Up! team member; and Bama-Q TV star John Lindsey who was joined by SCA champion Bren Howard.
âWe love to support the veterans,â Lindsey said. âCAS offers many of these benefits when supporting charities. And me and Brent are both about charities, and that’s why we love it. “
Before Adams handed out the prizes to wrap up the night, Dan Hall, a former Baxter County Judge and Vietnam Veteran handed out prizes from a drawing hosted by the local County Veterans Suicide Prevention Program. Baxter, US Veteran Outreach.
Top prizes went to 2020 SCA World Champion Marissa Ouverson for Best Potato Dish and Jonesboro, Arkansas resident Katelyn Crain for Best Steak.
âThank God! I needed all the help I could get today,â Crain said after winning first place and the $ 1,000 prize. âI felt good, but not so good. This is my very first victory for first place, and it’s amazing. â
The winning ticket number for the Jewels For You raffle is 160804. The winner has until July 2 at noon to present their ticket to Carter’s Jewel Chest. If a winner does not submit a winning ticket by July 2, a new ticket will be drawn every six days until a winning ticket is presented.