South Carolina

‘This is on my bucket list’: Crowds gather in Myrtle Beach for Carolina Country Music Fest

Rain is a good thing, according to country superstar Luke Bryan, and it didn’t stop legions of country music fans from dancing along Ocean Boulevard as the Carolina Country Music Fest kicked off Thursday night.

With the annual event expected to draw in over 30,000 people to Myrtle Beach, music fanatics eagerly lined up outside the event gates and powered through the former Myrtle Beach Pavilion site to get a prime spot at the Coors Light Main Stage as Morgan Evans, Travis Denning, Gyth Rigdon, Dee Jay Silver and Alabama performed the first night of the four-day outdoor event.

“This is on my bucket list,” Virginia resident Glenna Harris said. “I love country music.”

Jason Brooks of Lynchburg, Va. raises his hands as Gyth Rigdon performs the National Anthem Thursday afternoon during Carolina Country Music Fest. Josh Bell

While Harris cited Dierks Bentley and Blake Shelton as her favorite country musicians, listening to George Strait growing up in Texas gave her the motivation to one day attend a country festival. After buying a home in the Myrtle Beach area, she rounded up her girlfriends, bought the tickets and fulfilled her dream.

While some were attending the festival for the first time, others said they bought their tickets a year in advance to ensure they wouldn’t miss an opportunity to see their favorite country bands and artists perform, including Alabama, who celebrated their 50th anniversary in the in the same place their career began.

“We love Alabama,” Georgia native Savannah Worthy said. “I can sing their songs word for word.”

Along Ocean Boulevard and on the Pavilion grounds, attendees sporting cowboy hats and cowboy boots danced and sang as their favorite songs blasted through the arena. With some sporting typical country garb, a group of male concert-goers from Pennsylvania strutted the event wearing nothing but daisy dukes.

CCMF attendees dressed in all denim gather in the VIP area Thursday afternoon on the first day of Carolina Country Music Fest. Josh Bell

Josiah Wenger said losing a bet resulted in him wearing his tiny denim shorts when he attended CCMF for the first time. But what was meant to be an embarrassing loss, turned into a profitable and attention-grabbing getup.

“I started walking around and people were grabbing me and taking pictures,” Wenger said. “I charge a dollar for a photo now.”

More than 30 bands and artists will perform this weekend with country heavyweights Dierks Bentley, Florida Georgia Line and Thomas Rhett rocking the stage as they each headline their respective days.

Friday’s lineup included Dierks Bentley, Brothers Osborne, Randy Houser, Jimmie Allen, Gabby Barrett, Dee Jay Silver and Smithfield on the Coors Light Main Stage. High Valley, Sweet Tea Trio, Ryan Trotti and a Battle of the Bands winner were scheduled to perform on the American Anthem Stage.

Saturday’s main stage will feature Florida Georgia Line, Dan + Shay, Cam, Gone West, Delta Rae, Dee Jay Silver and Warrick McZeke. The American Anthem Stage will include Mitchell Tenpenny, Trea Landon, Kevin Mac Ft. Yesterday’s Wine and a Battle of the Bands winner.

Mickey Maguire of Boston, MA. (L), Erin Romano of Vienna, Va., Carol Romano and Glenna Harris of Falls Church, Va. (R) take a selfie in the VIP area Thursday afternoon on the first day of Carolina Country Music Fest. Josh Bell

Thomas Rhett, Dustin Lynch, Midland, Rhett Atkins, Dylan Schneider, Dee Jay Silver and John Gurney will conclude the music fest on the main stage Sunday, with Filmore, Matt Stell and a Battle of the Bands winner performing on the American Anthem Stage.

Myrtle Beach resident Suzie Lane said she worked the event for two years before deciding to kick back and enjoy the music. She cited the gathering as a family-friendly atmosphere that has only gotten better every year.

“I’m happy that people come out,” Lane said. “It think it’s awesome.”

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Anna Young is the Coastal Cities reporter for The Sun News covering anything and everything that happens locally. Young, an award-winning journalist who got her start reporting local news in New York, is dedicated to upholding the values of journalism by listening, learning, seeking out the truth and reporting it accurately. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from SUNY Purchase College.