PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio — It was only 10 minutes after 8 p.m. Thursday night when Rascal Flatts’ vocalist Gary LeVox addressed the crowd of about 10,000 people at the island’s airport during the second Bash On The Bay country music festival.
“There’s a party jumping off of Put-in-Bay tonight,” Mr. LeVox said seconds before the band launched into its hit “Yours If You Want It,” its second song of the night.
The country band with Columbus roots includes Mr. LeVox, Jay DeMarcus, and Joe Don Rooney and is known for such No. 1 hits as “Mayberry,” “What Hurts the Most,” “Fast Cars and Freedom,” and “Bless the Broken Road.”
As soon as the band finished its set, organizers announced that Detroit singer/songwriter Kid Rock will headline the 2019 Bash On The Bay, which will be Aug. 29 at the island’s airport.
PHOTO GALLERY: Bash on the Bay
Thousands of people attended the festival at the Put-In-Bay Airport, including some who either booked a hotel room on the island, stayed at a campsite, or docked their boat in the marina. The island is capable of accommodating up to 7,500 people who can stay overnight, which left nearly 3,000 people who needed to take a ferry back to the mainland after the festival.
Country fans rented golf carts, hitched a ride on a bus, or walked from the ferry drop-offs to get to the airport.
Debby Parker, 50, of Holland said this year was her first time at Bash On The Bay.
She said she’s a fan of the way Rascal Flatts incorporates harmonies into the band’s songs and how the festival is a large economic impact for Put-in-Bay.
“It’s a good money maker for the island,” she said.
Cindy Parker, 59, who has a summer home on the island, said she has family who were raised on Put-In-Bay.
She said she’s a country western fan, which intrigued her to attend.
“I’ve been looking forward to it all year,” she said.
Gates opened at 3 p.m. and Decorah, Iowa, act the Cory Farley Band started playing music at 3:30 p.m, which was followed with a 30-minute set by Detroit country artist Paulina Jayne.
The 22-year-old musician said she arrived Wednesday to Put-in-Bay and said she’s never played on an island before. She said she liked how the festival focuses heavily on up-and-coming artists.
“It’s been a total blast seeing this island,” she told The Blade. “It’s really cool [organizers] are willing to put me on the bill and give me some time. It’s a special thing.”
Adam Labuda, 38, of Cleveland said he’s been to Put-in-Bay many times but Thursday was his first time at Bash On The Bay. His group decided to stay in a camper at an island campsite. He said the fact the island was hosting a country music festival made him want to make the hour drive.
“It’s pretty awesome,” he said. “[Rascal Flatts isn’t] one of my favorite bands but they’re all right.”
Arkansas native Joe Nichols started his set at 6:30 p.m. and played songs such as “Size Matters” and “She Only Smokes When She Drinks” and also included covers of Alan Jackson’s “Don’t Rock The Jukebox” and Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.”
Aside from the 20 semis and 15 buses full of band equipment that loaded onto a ferry to get to the island Tuesday and Wedneday, 10 food trucks also made their way to the airport.
One of those included Jimmy G’s Pit Smoked Barbecue from Fremont, which is also a part of the Toledo Food Truck Association.
Owner Jim Gippert, 51, said his truck arrived at the airport at 11 a.m. Thursday.
His food truck participated at last year’s festival headlined by Toby Keith and he wanted to make sure his team made another appearance this year.
“It’s a great end to a great summer,” he said. “It’s about building community.”
The festival generated about $45,000 to the Put-in-Bay Port Township Port Authority. Last year’s festival brought about $6 million in economic impact to the island and surrounding area.
Tickets go on sale to the general public at 10 a.m. Oct. 5 for next year’s Bash On The Bay, and can be purchased at etix.com.
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