By Mary Ann Bourbeau
RED BANK – Marine Park will be awash in cowboy hats this weekend as the Rockin’ Red Bank Country Music and Food Festival boot scoots into town on Saturday, June 28 and Sunday, June 29.
“Country music is the hottest genre in the tristate area,” said Ruthanne Harrison, the event’s producer. “Sponsors and vendors have been calling from all over. It’s going to be incredible.”
The headliner for the family-friendly event is Nashville recording artist Maggie Rose, who will perform at 7:15 p.m. Saturday. Rose is a Maryland native who recently opened for Gary Allan and Sheryl Crow on their Free & Easy Tour.
“Maggie is really in the sights of a lot of people in the industry,” Harrison said. “She is going to make a name for herself.”
Rose will be singing some of the songs from her debut CD, “Cut to Impress” as well some new material. She said she is very excited to be headlining the Red Bank show.
“I love festivals,” she said. “Everyone is generally in a great mood, and the variety of music is fun. You come to hear one thing and you’re turned on to different music or a new band. Sharing the bill with other artists is how I’ve made a lot of friends.”
Rose’s drummer is Asbury Park native Sarah Tomek. The two met when Tomek’s band played at Stone Pony along with the B Street Band, of which Rose was a member. Tomek had been playing with different rock bands in New York and New Jersey for a decade.
“Maggie took her career to Nashville and asked me to move down there with her,” Tomek said. “It’s been a trip ever since. Country music is kind of a new thing for me, but I love it. It has so many different elements of rock and pop.”
Tomek, who has been playing drums for 16 years, is excited to appear in her first hometown show with Maggie Rose.
“It should be pretty crazy,” she said. “Maggie is an amazing talent. I could have never dreamed I’d be working with an artist who is my best friend. We ride the tour bus and wake up in a new city every morning. That was my goal and I’m happy I’m finally doing it.”
Many genres of country music, such as traditional country, country rock, folk, honky tonk, Americana and bluegrass, will be represented on the event’s two stages.
“It’s not just what you think of as old-fashioned country music,” Harrison said. “It’s a real mix.” The artists appearing will be Madeline Smith, After the Reign, Ronnie Brandt & Freewheelin’, Scott DeCarlo, Citizens Band Radio, Tequila Rose, NashEast, Harper’s Fellow, Michael Patrick’s Ring of Fire Johnny Cash Tribute, Suburban Hillbillies, Chuck Schaeffer, Robin DeLorenzo, Apryl Evans and Nikki Briar.
DJs and dance instructors Gail and Harry from Silver Spurrs will provide the music and lead the crowd in line dancing lessons. Those more adventurous cowboys and cowgirls can test their riding skills on the mechanical bull.
The festival will include giveaways and contests with prizes that include concert tickets. To keep the kids entertained, there will be sand art, face painting and games. Robert Frances – otherwise known as Hop-a-long, the Dork of Deception – will perform his comedic magic throughout the weekend near the playground. The younger set also will be entertained by Ronnie Brandt, who will lead them in a Cowboy Sing-a-Long.
Vendors will be selling items such as cowboy boots and hats, belt buckles, silver jewelry and toys. There will also be some novelty items, including jewelry made from guitar strings and artwork made from license plates.
After working up an appetite with all that line dancing, 20 Red Bank restaurants will serve up country favorites including barbeque, pulled pork, roasted corn, fried chicken, hush puppies, alligator sausage and catfish.
Participating restaurants include The Bistro at Red Bank, Boondocks Fishery, the Chowda House, Dish, Gaetano’s, Mac Attack, JR’s Burgers and Sugarush. Beer, wine, sangria and hard cider will also be available for purchase.
The Red Bank Rockin’ Country Music and Food Festival runs from noon until 9 p.m. Saturday, June 28, and noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 29. Admission is $5, and children 10 and under are free. The event is a fundraiser for the Red Bank RiverCenter, Red Bank Fire Department and the Red Bank Public Library and school libraries.
Vibe writer Mary Ann Bourbeau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .