It was rainy early, then cloudy and muggy for the first day of this year's Rock the South festival, but the fans didn't seem to mind. (W.C. Mann for The Tribune)
CULLMAN – Rain threatened to spoil the start of Rock the South on Friday, but despite the ominous clouds hanging over the park, hundreds and hundreds of anxious patrons lined up in front of the main gate waiting to get in. The wet weather hit as soon as the gates opened, delaying the start of the festivities, but a little more than an hour later, RTS kicked into full gear.
Country music fans made the trip to Cullman this year from all across the United States, and even from other countries, and most of them made the trip with a favorite artist in mind.
Paige and Grace from Mississippi were two of the first fans in line Friday and said this was their first year to attend. Grace said they first decided to make the trip when they saw information about it online while looking for their favorite musicians.
“Just the on the internet, looking for Eric Church really,” Grace joked.
Her friend Paige had a different preference.
“I’m here for Thomas Rhett. That’s what I’m here for,” she smiled.
Just a few steps from them in line was Donna, who made her way to town all the way from Ohio to see some of her favorite performers, as well as her sister, Vicky, a local.
“I’m here to see my sister Vicki Cahoon, Gary Allen, Eric Church, Hank Williams and Thomas Rhett,” she shared.
Cahoon has been to Rock the South before and talked her sister into making it down for this year’s event.
Andy and Linda from Greenville, South Carolina said they were first-timers at RTS, and like several of their fellow guests, they came following one of their favorites.
“We’re going to enjoy all of it, but we found this event online while we were looking for Hank Williams Jr.,” Linda said. “We really wanted to try and come see him here.”
Andy is also a big Eric Church fan, but said he was almost as excited as his wife for Hank Williams Jr. on Saturday night.
Thousands of fans streamed into the park once the gates re-opened. Dalton and the Sheriffs got things started on stage shortly after patrons began making their way back inside.
Dozens of different food and beverage vendors span the park; this year, Heritage Park’s east lot has been filled with tents and vendors from several restaurants, distilleries and more.
Josh Miranda, Kirstie Lovelady, Dylan Schneider and Upchurch each took to the main stage throughout the afternoon before the heavyweights began playing around sunset. Former “American Idol” runner-up Lauren Alaina performed after the sun had finally set, then Brett Young took the microphone for his set as Friday night’s first headliner. After Young’s performance, one of this year’s fan favorites, Thomas Rhett, grabbed the mic to end day one.
Saturday’s events will get started with Dalton and the Sheriffs at 1 p.m. and Eric Church will close things out at 11:15.
Saturday’s full lineup:
- 1 p.m. Dalton and the Sheriffs
- 2 p.m. Kenton Bryant
- 3:45 p.m. Troy Cartwright
- 4:45 p.m. Travis Denning
- 5:30 p.m. Mason Ramsey
- 6:10 p.m. Marshall Tucker Band
- 7:45 p.m. Riley Green
- 9:30 p.m. Hank Williams Jr.
- 11:15 p.m. Eric Church
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