A devil of a crowd for Chingawassa
If anyone had a doubt Charlie Daniels would be a huge draw for Chingawassa Days, all they needed to see were the scores of empty chairs gobbling up green space.
Not Saturday night during the concert, but that afternoon, as people started jockeying for prime seats soon after the gates opened in the morning.
“Sometimes they do that, but not on a scale as massive as it was,” committee chairman Clayton Garnica said. “They were there really early to get seats.”
While there’s no official crowd estimate, Garnica said about 2,000 buttons were sold. Add to that vendors, security, and those with complimentary buttons, and it’s likely Saturday’s crowd was the largest to see a Chingawassa Days concert.
“To see the park filled with that many people was just shocking,” Garnica said. “It was very good to see people show up and support Chingawassa Days and what we do.”
Garnica said that Marion police, sheriff’s deputies, and Chingawassa’s own security volunteers handled the crowd well, but that they learned some things for next year.
“We anticipated a larger crowd, but maybe not to the scale it was,” he said. “How do you anticipate the park being that full until it happens?”
Garnica said he received word through Daniels’ agent that Daniels enjoyed performing.
“He loved it,” Garnica said. “He loved the small town atmosphere and he loved seeing that park full.”
Friday’s concert attendance also appeared to be larger than past events, and most activities Saturday drew at or above past levels.
“The weather was perfect both evenings, and all day Saturday; we couldn’t have asked for better weather,” Garnica said.
The organizing committee got together for a debriefing barbecue, and already ideas were flying about next year.
“You want to take a second to look back and say, ‘Wow, we did it; we pulled off Charlie Daniels,’” Garnica said. “But in the back of your mind is how do you make 2018 even better?”