WATCH a video from Saturday night.
See our PHOTO SLIDESHOW.
Tens of thousands of people enjoyed the 2017 Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival Saturday after Hurricane Matthew forced a one-year hiatus, and the new stage area was up to the test during several hours of entertainment.
“This is way better weather than last year,” joked Big Al Mack of the Kidd Kraddick Morning Show, who acted as emcee for the evening.
Although an exact figure was not available Saturday night, long-time observers said it was the most crowded they had ever seen J.F. Gregory Park. Removing the old amphitheater and setting up a professional stage on a concrete pad in its place added about three acres to the space available for festival-goers.
When Mack asked the crowd to stand as part of the opening ceremonies when an honor guard presented the colors, one voice yelled out “In Richmond Hill? Yes, sir.”
After the National Anthem and a prayer, opening remarks were given by Col. Jason Wolter of Fort Stewart, Chamber of Commerce Chair Trace Palmer, Richmond Hill Mayor Harold Fowler and GOSF Chair Tim Proffitt.
“It’s humbling to be asked to lead this awesome group of volunteers,” Proffitt said.
Proffitt then asked the crowd if they noticed anything different about the park.
“A few years ago the city asked me what could be done to improve this venue, and I suggested we start with a bulldozer,” Proffitt laughed. “What was a dream became a vision and then a reality.”
Adam Wakefield and Jerrod Niemann, both of whom were scheduled to perform last year, started off Saturday night’s festivities. Wakefield took the stage about 6:20 p.m. and played for about 45 minutes as the sun fell. Niemann followed that with an hour-long performance ending around 8:45 p.m.
By the time 38 Special took the stage at 9:30, the standing-room-only crowd was ready to rock.
The band didn’t disappoint, bringing everyone to their feet with “Rockin Into the Night.” They followed that up with 21 more songs, including their hits “Wild Eyed Southern Boys,” “Teacher Teacher” and “So Caught Up In You.”
Their encore included “Hold On Loosely” and a rousing rendition of the Creedence Clearwater Revival tune “Travelin Band.” They finished at 11 p.m. and were followed by a 20-minute fireworks display.
The GOSF continues Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.