So Long Summer Music Fest director Cindy Platter enjoys watching people line up outside the gates early and their excitement as they begin to file in.
"But the best moment each year is when the lights go down and the performers come out — the roar of the crowd when the first chord is played from our huge stage with our amazing sound — it nearly moves me to tears every year," she said.
With approximately 2,800 people coming out last year to see Montgomery Gentry and Rodney Atkins during the So Long Summer Music Fest, Platter is excited to see some sold-out early entrance tickets for Trace Adkins during the third annual festival, scheduled Sept. 22-23 at the Jefferson City Jaycees Fairgrounds.
"All 'early entrance' tickets are sold out for both track and bleacher (seating), and regular bleacher tickets are nearly sold out as of this date," Platter said Monday about Adkins' Sept. 23 concert.
The two-day music festival begins Sept. 22 with legendary rock band Night Ranger after opening act and tribute band Poison Overdose performs at 7:30 p.m.
The rock band is celebrating its 35th anniversary, selling more than 17 million albums worldwide and performing more than 3,000 live shows. They have earned widespread acclaim, multi-platinum and gold album status, and a string of recognizable singles including "Sister Christian," "Don't Tell Me You Love Me," "When You Close Your Eyes" and "You Can Still Rock in America." Night Ranger recently released a new studio album, "Don't Let Up."
Mid-Missouri native band and local favorites Murphy's Ford will open for country star Trace Adkins at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 23. The local band released a self-titled EP in 2016.
"(Murphy's Ford is) a local band that is Nashville-bound, were runners-up in the Nash Next 2016 competition in Nashville last year, and have a couple songs playing on the radio right now," Platter said.
The trademark baritone Adkins has sold more than 10 million albums and powered hits including "You're Gonna Miss This," "Ladies Love Country Boys," "Hillbilly Bone" and "Just Fishin'," according to the music festival's website. The Grammy-nominated member of the Grand Ole Opry is also a television personality, film actor, author, and spokesman for Wounded Warrior Project and the American Red Cross.
So Long Summer Music Fest is still a young festival, but it continues to bring in heavy-hitting entertainment, with 2,600 attending the first event to see Clint Black and Sawyer Brown in 2015. They also know proceeds benefit Safety Net of Missouri, which is the reason the festival started in the first place.
Safety Net of Missouri provides support and financial assistance to the spouses and children of local law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics, EMTs and correction officers who have lost their lives performing their duty. All festival volunteers are public safety officers or their families and friends.
"There's not a day that goes by these days that we don't hear or see on the news locally or nationally about a police officer being killed, or a firefighter losing his life in a structure fire. It's unfortunate that we need to be prepared to help our families when it happens here in our community, but we have to do it," Platter said. "Because my husband was, at the time, a Jefferson City firefighter, the cause was and still is near to our hearts. I created the festival specifically with the Safety Net in mind; and since retiring, my husband, Doug, has taken on a larger role in the event, as well."
Many sponsors have joined in to support So Long Summer Music Fest and its cause, including Xtreme Body & Paint, EMS Professionals, KRCG, NASH 100.1 FM, 104.1 Jefferson City Classic Hits and SunBelt Rentals, which is laying ground cover material on the entire track to prevent a muddy track in case in rains.
For more information or to buy tickets, visit solongsummermusicfest.com.