Default 5Video of American Idol Stephanie Edwards in concert.
Default 4Video of all the RH Idol contestants.
While gas prices may have caused many to stay close to home over the holiday weekend, Bryan County offered residents plenty to stay busy with.
Fort McAllister held its annual Fourth of July Celebration Friday and Saturday, offering several programs for the community to participate in.
Park Director Danny Brown said the weekend was a very busy, but safe, one.
"On Friday, we hosted 19th century games, cannon firings and historical talks. These programs lasted all day and attracted more than 350 people," Brown said. "On Saturday, we hosted a canoe trip for more than 30 people. All 65 sites of the campground were full with campers and guests. We are estimating more than 1,500 campers throughout the three-day weekend, with a grand total of about 1,800 guests for all events and camping."
Organizers said the RHRA Family Festival was also a success, despite being nearly rained out.
Approximately 3,000 people flocked to J.F. Gregory Park on July 5, which is about half as many from last year’s sunny festivities.
"The park was packed the first part of the day," said event coordinator Shelly Sauls. "The crowd thinned out after the first rain, and nearly died out after the second downpour."
Several planned activities were cancelled due to the rain, but the evening festivities were held, even with scattered showers.
This included the Richmond Hill Idol competition, American Idol Stephanie Edwards in concert and the fireworks display.
One of the earlier events included a "VIPIE Throw" which saw people line up to throw pies in the faces of Mayor Richard Davis, Mayor Pro-Tem Floyd Hilliard and City Councilperson Marilyn Hodges. Kids and adults alike playfully aimed and fired as the officials took turns sticking their heads through a stand-up display.
Other festival sights and sounds included blow-up slides and activities for the kids, numerous BBQ and arts and crafts vendors lining the covered pavilion, a Paul Bunyon lumberjack show and "Dancing Diggers from JCB", when several large JCB machines rose up, lowered back down and were maneuvered in an entertaining manner.
The contestants of the Miss RHRA contest, which took place Saturday morning, took the stage. Numerous trophies were handed out, with the main prizes going to Destiny Lackey (12 and under), Morgan Hunter (10 and under) and Rae Hiott (8 and under).
About 200 people endured the rain as the Richmond Hill Idol competition kicked off at 5 p.m. Thirteen contestants in all hit the stage for karaoke-backed vocal performances which were judged by former American Idol contestant and Savannah resident Stephanie Edwards, KISS FM DJ T-Lovely and concert promoter J.R. Gill.
Richmond Hill teen Anna Hall took first place in the event. A stipulation of her winning the event is she will now perform live as one of the opening acts country star Billy Dean’s concert at J.F. Gregory Park on July 19.
Hall, who chose the religious song "Alabaster Box" by Natalie Grant for the occasion, said she has been singing at church for years and, "God has blessed me with a voice, so I’ve been singing ever since I was little."
Just before the fireworks display, Edwards hit the stage for a three-song live performance. She kicked things off with Alicia Keys’ "How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore", a tune she played on national television while making it to the final 12 the most recent round American Idol.
Edwards said she was honored to be chosen as a judge and performer at the event, and the fame that American Idol has brought her has not gotten to her head.
"I don’t look at myself as a celebrity, but I have been recognized a lot. I still just see myself as Stephanie. I still clean up the house and wash my clothes, so I’m not at the level yet where I get any special privileges. I had a great time on American Idol, and it’s really an accomplishment that I can say I was on the show. I hope it will help me as I try to pursue my singing career and get a record deal."
Click the video icon to see clips of Edwards and all the RH Idol contestants.