Hank Festival line-up finalized

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 16, 2005

Come the first weekend in June, cars, vans, and motor homes from all over the nation – not to mention air travelers from overseas –

will converge on Georgiana for the South Butler County community's biggest weekend of the entire year.

The 26th Annual Hank Williams Festival, the city's annual "Salute to a Legend", is slated for June 2-4 at the Hank Williams Music Park in Georgiana.

City officials are expecting another successful event.

"We are looking forward to having everyone come again to our festival; I think we have a great lineup and we do advise everybody to get their tickets early," says Georgiana City Clerk Barbara Clem.

Included in the weekend's lineup are headliners Brad Magness, Gene Watson, Earl Thomas Conley, Jett Williams and the Oak Ridge Boys.

Also slated to appear are Garrett Miles, talented fiddlin' youngsters Hillary and Haleigh Spangler, Terry Smith, local favorite, JC's Pure Country Band, Greenville's own talented vocalist, Starla Jones, Colin Leatherwood and Mary MacDonald.

Folks in attendance will also have the chance to meet and hear the former "Drifting Cowboys" who were members of Hank's own band.

"I think this is an extremely good lineup, one of our better ones – right up close with Loretta Lynn and George Jones," says Mayor Lynn Watson.

Advanced tickets for the weekend, which are available through May 31, are $30. Individual tickets for Friday's concert with Brad Magness and Gene Watson are $15; Saturday's concert with Magness, Jett Williams, Earl Thomas Conley and the Oak Ridge Boys run $25 each. Gates open at 3 p.m. on Friday and 8 a.m. on Saturday.

"We really do recommend folks consider the weekend pass – $10 is a good savings," says Watson.

The Hank Williams Festival weekend kicks off with the "Country Hoedown" Jam Session on Thursday at the Hank Williams Fan Club House. This year's event is slated to begin at 3 p.m., says Hank Williams Fan Club President Mary Wallace.

"We are starting it earlier so it won't be a conflict for those who want to attend the Songwriter's Contest that evening," she explains.

The Thursday night Country Hoedown Jam Session is the first opportunity for Hank fans to all get together "and we all have a wonderful time," says Wallace.

Hot dogs, hamburgers and other refreshments will be offered to jam session attendees, and Wallace says you just never know who might drop by during the session.

"We had George Hamilton IV stop in along with Jett Williams last year – so there are always surprises in store," says Wallace. There will also be a Hank Williams Fan Club Breakfast on Saturday morning at the club house.

Thursday's free Songwriter's Contest kicks off at 6 p.m. at the Music Park.

Watson says they have already gotten "an extremely good response" to this year's lineup.

"I know there are a lot of Oak Ridge Boy fans out there. I've also just discovered Earl Thomas Conley has produced a lot of number one hits – I started looking over the list and seeing a lot of great songs," he says.

Wallace agrees people are excited about the entertainment lineup.

"People are telling me they are so anxious for the festival to get here. We are getting a really, really good response from the fans. I've heard the hotel rooms in Greenville are nearly all booked up for that weekend – this is an event that really benefits more than Georgiana's economy, too," Wallace comments.

The Hank Williams Festival is an outdoor event, so patrons are encouraged to bring their lawn chairs. However, no lounge chairs, coolers, drinks, food or pets are allowed into the park. Food and beverages along with arts and crafts will also available to festival attendees' enjoyment.

Advance tickets are available at the Georgiana City Hall (376-2555) or at the Hank Williams Museum. For more information about the Jam Session and Fan Club Breakfast, contact May Wallace at 453-0480 or contact the club house at 376-0038.