14th Annual Country Festival draws crowd
Kelly Paul, AY Editor
Kevil - Cool, “last day of summer,” weather brought out a big crowd to the 14th Annual Country Festival at Drake Lake Archery Range this past Saturday evening. People of all ages came out to the event hosted by Randy Fondaw to enjoy good food, great music, and a fun time with friends and family.
According to Fondaw, the event has really grown from its beginnings. In its first year, the Country Festival had 12 people from the community come out to a hotdog and marshmallow roast. Fondaw was pleased with the turn out and said, “Let’s try to make it a little bigger.” With that said, the next year saw 60 people come to the event, which then included a gospel group singing for an hour. Since then, with the exception of one year when the event was rained out, the Country Festival has kept on growing.
In its fourth year, Fondaw said he had a visit from WPSD News Channel 6. The reporter asked Fondaw why he did not charge for the event. The reporter said that Fondaw could make a lot of money. “It’s not about the money,” Fondaw told the reporter. “I want people to come out at least once a year and enjoy themselves without it costing.”
Fondaw feels that, since he has the room on his property, he wants to have stuff there to get the entire community involved. Just like with his “Kids’ Fishing Day” in the spring, Fondaw wants families with two or three kids to be able to come out to an event they couldn’t otherwise afford.
This year’s festival featured plenty of BBQ pork, hot dogs and hamburgers, and several tables lined up with all sorts of side dishes and desserts. Although the food was definitely one of the main draws of the festival, there were other attractions as well. This included gospel music by The Peacemakers and Country music by the Side Winders. The crowd was also encouraged to take a hayride around the property. Throughout the evening, numbers were called out numbers for prizes that had been provided by the numerous sponsors for the event. To name just a few would not do the sponsors justice, and to name them all would fill up an entire page.
Just before the food was served, Ballard resident Bob Berry delighted the crowd as he flew his ultra-liteplane overhead and threw out ball caps as kids scampered everywhere in an attempt to catch a cap. Randy Fondaw then walked around from group to group in the crowd to pass out even more prizes donated by sponsors. It seemed that no one left empty-handed.
The absolute highlight of the evening had to be the spectacular fireworks show accompanied by patriotic music.