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Country in the Park full of great music, low on beer

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It was a sea of cut-off shorts, cowboy hats, and overalls at Capitol Mall on Sunday afternoon for Country in the Park 2010.

KNCI 105.1 managed to turn the intersection on Capitol Mall and Fifth Streets into a country music venue for the day. The gated-off intersection was filled with an estimated 11,000-12,000 country music fans, making this year one of the biggest in it’s 11-year existence, according to Mark Evans, program director at KHTK and KNCI Sacramento.

Due to budget cuts Gibson Ranch, where the concert is normally held, was unable to rent out the park to KNCI this year.

The singing of the national anthem and “God Bless America” with help from the crowd kicked off the day on a high and patriotic note.

Whiskey Dawn took the stage first, setting the bar high for an impressive lineup of talented country stars. Others included Sunny Sweeney, Eli Young Band, Jack Ingram and Dierks Bentley.

The day was close to perfect except for a minor upset when the beer taps ran dry about an hour before Bentley took the stage.

As part of the deal to hold the event downtown this year, the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau ran and kept all proceeds from alcohol sales.

“I know they had planned on a bigger supply than had been gone through in previous years, but (for whatever reason), it was an enormous beer-drinking crowd that showed up,” Evans said.

Alcohol tickets were sold in advance at different booths than where the alcohol was actually served, and many people purchased multiple tickets to avoid waiting in lengthy lines.

“How is it possible to run out of beer at a country concert, of all places?” asked one concert attendee, Karley Spaulding, referring to country songs’ constant references to drinking.

While refunds were offered to those who still had tickets in hand, many decided the lines were too long, and some even left before Bentley took the stage. As some vocalized their frustration, security guards braced themselves in front of each booth that served alcohol in case anyone became unruly.

Despite the upset, the show continued, and the true country fans stayed for the reason they came: the music.

Fans went wild when Ingram joined Bentley onstage for an impromptu duet, and their love for Bentley was obvious as the cheers grew louder with every song.

Bentley belted out his catchy hits like “All my exes live in Texas,” “Lot of Leavin’ Left to Do” and “Every Mile a Memory.”

He won over the crowd’s hearts, saying, “The prettiest girls are in California! Put that in my Wikepedia!”

Bentley drove the crowd even more crazy when he proclaimed, “I love me some Old Sac!”

The love was mutual.


Photos taken by Kati Garner

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