Music fans soak up sounds, mist at Crisfield fest

June 26, 1994|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,Ocean City Bureau of The Sun

CRISFIELD -- It was Nashville-by-the-Sea, as 15,000 people gathered yesterday in this shore town for the fourth annual Tangier Sound Country Music Festival.

Ricky Van Shelton, Doug Stone, and Pam Tillis headlined an all-day program, which included Daron Norwood, Shenandoah, Victoria Shaw and McBride and the Ride.

"It's a lot of fun," said Traci Spickler of Baltimore, who was cooling down her friend, Brenda Chalsant, with a Super Soaker water pistol. "It's only a '50,' " she said, brandishing the water pistol. "The kids wouldn't let us have the '200'!"

"We're trying to do a deal -- a soak for a beer," Ms. Spickler joked.

Cooling off was the order of the day, as temperatures hit the 90s at Hammock Pointe, where the festival was held, overlooking Tangier Sound.

One popular stop was the "Rain Room," a green tent with sprinklers putting out a cool steady mist. People clustered under the tent, sponsored by the Maryland State Lottery, many fully clothed.

"It's great!" said a dripping Pete Edwards of Rock Hall.

"You ought to go in there, even in your clothes," said Alexandra Packer of Rock Hall. "It feels great, cools you off -- and you dry real quick!"

Bathing suits mixed with cowboy hats and baseball caps (most of the latter worn brim forward) as country music filled the air.

Distinctive cowboy-style mesh hats in neon colors were popular and available -- they were sold at a booth on the ground.

"They're $10 -- $11 with the feathers. You got to have the feathers," said Sherri Layton of Salisbury, showing off her electric-blue hat with white feathers trailing from the back.

"Yeah, you got to have the feathers," said her friend Suzy Stack also of Salisbury.

Both said they'd come to see Ms. Tillis, and Shenandoah. "Nothing but country for us!" Ms. Layton said. "At home, at work and in the car!"

Sitting in the front row were the Dodsons of Crisfield, one of the families that own the Hammock Pointe site, which was donated for the festival.

"We got a breeze today. Last year, it was 103 in the shade!" said Cindy Dodson, who sat front row and center with eight other Dodson family members.

"We got lucky with the weather," agreed David Imre, head of the festival's public relations. "Of course, we've got 10,000 people praying for it," he added, pointing to the crowd.

The festival was a state initiative to help promote tourism in Crisfield and Somerset County, said festival director Sandie Marriner.

It began in 1990, was not held in 1991 because the site was not available, and has been held every year since.

"We don't try to make a lot of money," Ms. Marriner said of the event, sponsored by the nonprofit Tangier Sound Music Festival Inc. "We put everything back into the festival, so each year we're bigger and better."

The festival was the idea of Gov. William Donald Schaefer -- "I think he's very proud of us," said Ms. Marriner. "We know that a lot of people sitting out there have never been here before," she said.

Among those attending who have been to Crisfield before were 15 bus drivers from Baltimore, who donate their services each year for the shuttle buses running between the parking lots and the festival grounds.

"Every year, we just enjoy coming down here and mixing with the people," said Bop Eaton, a bus supervisor who was directing traffic. "All of them volunteer their time. It's an event that everyone looks forward to."

"I volunteer -- I enjoy it," said Alfred Holliday, a bus dispatcher. "It's something I look forward to -- get away from the city, enjoy the scenery.

"I think you always have to give something back," he said.

"You can't just reach in and take it all."

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