Salute-A-Soldier draws music, food fans

Published 5:29 pm Thursday, April 16, 2009

After a full house for a rockin’ country concert with country rapper Colt Ford the headliner Friday night, Salute-A-Soldier continued in Georgiana on Saturday at the Hank Williams Sr. Park.

The weather was almost picture-perfect for the annual event, which provided attendees with arts and crafts, festival foods, information booths and children’s activities. Folks munched on funnel cakes and boiled peanuts and dined on barbecue plates for lunch.

Scented candles, handcrafted wisteria and kudzu baskets, porch swings, crafty handbags, natural stone jewelry and more were on display. Youngsters armed with bags and baskets enjoyed a giant Easter egg hunt in the afternoon, with some of the eggs containing numbers the children could turn in for prizes like basketballs, fluffy bunnies and giant treat-filled baskets.

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A collection of beautifully restored Farmall, McCormick and International Harvester tractors, courtesy of the Southern Antique Iron Association and Old Time Farm Day, also caught many eyes.

Earlier in the day, special recognition was made of all veterans present at the event, from WW II to the current Gulf War.

Greenville native Matt (Shepherd) Chapel and the Whiskey Run Band, who opened for Ford on Friday night, returned Saturday afternoon for a two-hour show. From hard-rockin’ numbers to tender ballads, Chapel and his band mixed his original compositions like “Angel Eyes” and “A Long Way to Go” with diverse hits from Alan Jackson, George Strait, Queen and Kid Rock.

Chapel, who now lives in Nashville, said it was always great to return to his home county to perform, especially for an event like Salute-A-Soldier.

“I don’t care how you feel about this war or any war, you should respect and appreciate all the men and women who serve our country every day,” said Chapel, himself a 13-year veteran of the military.

Chapel also introduced Tina Little of the Family Readiness Group for the 781st Transportation Squadron of the Alabama National Guard, the service organization that mounted the event. He praised Little for her leadership in organizing Salute-A-Soldier and expressed thanks to all who had worked to make it happen.

Among other homegrown talent performing at Salute-A-Soldier were New Vision, Night Moves and KOASS. The weekend celebration ended with a moonlight dance Saturday.

Little said there was an estimated 1,300 people in attendance at the Friday night concert. “We had a fantastic turnout for Colt and Matt on Friday, and just a beautiful day on Saturday with great vendors, food and more great music. It was a lot of hard work but we are very pleased with how everything went,” Little said.