Country Comes To County

July 27, 1994|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Sun Staff Writer

Three Glen Burnie businessmen have combined their talent, money and contacts to put on a country music festival this weekend with national acts such as Sawyer Brown, Shenandoah and Bryan Austin.

And they have only "about $70,000 worth" of concerns, says Scott Wagner, one of the organizers. That's how much he and his partners have invested in the festival, which is to be held Sunday at the Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds in Crownsville.

He and his partners would "love to" put on a similar concert in Glen Burnie, maybe at the Superblock, if they could get clearance from the county, Mr. Wagner said. But they would have to figure out how to stage a concert in the community without adversely affecting it, he added.

The three are not without experience, however. Mr. Wagner, who runs Michael's 8th Avenue with his father, state Sen. Michael J. Wagner, has staged rock concerts at the banquet hall over the past two years. Robert McCoy, another partner, is a promoter and booking agent. And Tony Toskov, the third partner, owns a limousine service and a country music bar.

The men say they are hoping to woo the kinds of fans who are willing to drive to country music festivals in Bull Run, Va., and in Crisfield, on the lower Eastern Shore, to their concert.

"Country music, everybody knows, is on the upswing now," said Mr. Wagner. "It's music that's for families."

They decided to put on the concert 2 1/2 months ago, believing they could fill a niche in Anne Arundel County, they said.

"We just believe there's a void in this market, in this county, for country music fans," said Mr. Wagner.

Mr. Toskov's country music club "took off like that" after it opened, Mr. Toskov said, snapping his fingers.

It's not unusual to find his club packed, he said, especially on country line-dance nights. "The age group we attract down there is 21 to 80. It's such a wide age group."

The fair and festival will also include children's games, pony rides, vendors, exhibits and crafts, and food and refreshments.

The festival gate will open at 10 a.m., and live music will run from 11 a.m. to dusk.

The men have been advertising the fair and festival through fliers, radio and print ads. They say they do not have major corporate sponsors. "This is an absolutely do-it-yourself package," said Mr. Wagner.

The men are banking on selling about 14,000 tickets, even though they have sold just 4,000 so far.

"I think 70 percent of this crowd is going to be walk-up at the gate," said Mr. Wagner. "We've been encouraging that."

The men say they don't intend the country music fair and festival to be a one-time event. "The whole day is geared toward everybody returning," said Mr. Wagner. "We want them walking out saying, 'Wow, what are you doing next year?'"

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