DAVENPORT – Country music fans braved sweltering heat and thunderstorm threats to see some of their favorite performers Friday at Centennial Park in Davenport.|
The Heartland Jam Music Festival, in its second year, attracted fans of all ages to see national and local country musicians on multiple stages. Friday's big names includedDarius Rucker, the former frontman from Hootie and the Blowfish, and Kellie Pickler, "American Idol" finalist and winner of "Dancing with the Stars."
Michael and Gloria Haut, of Davenport, staked out a spot directly in the middle of the festival grounds encircled by three stages, the beer tent, food vendors and, of course, the restrooms.
"I'm here to see Kellie," Mr. Haut said, as stage crews set up for the performer. "That's my sweetheart, besides my wife."
The couple braved the heat for a while, arriving early in the evening when temperatures were still in the mid-90s. But as wind speeds picked up, storm clouds loomed to the north.
Mr. Haut said he was undeterred. Half an hour later, the threat passed and Ms. Pickler took the stage without missing a beat.
Nicole Hazelwood, of Dixon, was more excited to see headliner Darius Rucker.
"Me and Hootie go way back," said Ms. Hazelwood, a fan of Mr. Rucker in his former band throughout the '90s.
She shared that she also tied her previous record on the mechanical bull.
"3.1 seconds – I'm a professional," she joked.
Others tested their driving skills with a dirt racing simulator housed inside a modified dirt car.
"A dirt car at a concert seems kind of weird, but it's a great time," said Jay Roelandt, owner of the Davenport-based Roelandt Racing Systems.
This was his second year of bringing the simulator to the Heartland Jam. Profits from the event will go to the Loren Arp Memorial Foundation, which provides financial assistance to families of children undergoing treatment at the University of Iowa's burn center.
"It's good that it's all going to charity," he said.
Mr. Roelandt said he was fine with not making any money; he noted he has a "front row" view of the main stage for both days. Today he can seeLauren Alaina,Jerrod Niemann andRodney Atkins.
That lineup appealed to Jimmy Holt, of Davenport, who waited in line at the beer tent before Friday night's headliner.
"I'm just coming out for another great event in the Quad-Cities," Mr. Holt said, saying it was something he and his wife could enjoy a week before the Bix.
"Everything is just coming together perfectly," he added.
If you go:
The Heartland Jam Music Festival continues today 2 p.m. to midnight at Centennial Park, 315 S. Marquette St., Davenport. Tickets are $45 for the day. For more details, call 563-391-0888.
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