(Video Above: David Warren of Cullman Aerial Photography provided drone coverage of Rock the South)
CULLMAN, Ala.– 90+ degree weather didn’t keep thousands of country music fans from attending The Yellowhammer State’s leading country music festival this weekend.
Cullman, Alabama is home to Pepsi’s Rock the South, the fastest growing music festival in the Southeast. More than just a concert, this was the event’s fourth year, with an attendance of over 40,000. The two-day festival featured a line up of several chart-topping artists including Alan Jackson, Brantley Gilbert, Tyler Farr, Corey Smith and Alabama natives Sara Evans and Jessica Meuse.
Evans’ husband—and former University of Alabama quarterback—Jay Barker, co-founded Rock the South along with Cullman’s Shane Quick, owner of local event company Premier Productions. Pepsi sponsored the event, along with iHeart Radio and several local, state, and city businesses. These sponsors helped raise over $50,000 for charities, Children’s of Alabama, “The Link” of Cullman County and “No White Flags for Cancer.”
Quick experienced the 2011 tornadoes first-hand and helped develop Rock the South after seeing how the community came together to rebuild and recover from the storms that devastated the area. In the aftermath of the storm, Quick began looking for a way to celebrate not only Cullman, but the state of Alabama as well.
“North Alabama needed a festival, a country music festival and we were proud to provide one. Having a cause, having a reason to do it, just made it a no brainer,” Quick told Yellowhammer Saturday, adding that there are “definitely” plans for the festival to continue in Cullman.
“This is our home, we’re going to stay here, the city can grow with us, they’ve already shown that, we meet all the time to talk about ways to grow the festival.”
According to Quick, over 30 states were represented at Rock the South.
What makes a great location for a music festival?
Leah Bolin, President and CEO of Cullman’s Chamber of Commerce said that, “Traditionally, a lot of these large festivals like Bonnaroo, they start off in a smaller town. Cullman is probably one of the larger, smaller towns that have accommodated this type of festival.”
“I think that it’s a great, safe place for people to come and enjoy a good time,” Bolin said.
Jessica Meuse, who finished fourth on American Idol’s 13th season performed at the festival on Saturday. Meuse hails from the small town of Slapout, Alabama, 27 miles north of Montgomery.
“I love Alabama, Alabama’s absolutely beautiful, the people are beautiful, I love the spirituality of Alabama, it’s keeps me grounded, and I think that that’s probably why God kind of led me here, to be in that kind of environment to remind me who I am,” Meuse said.
Meuse released her first single, “Done” independently in April.
Congressman Robert Aderholt was in attendance at the event and addressed the crowd before longtime country music star Travis Tritt took the stage on Saturday evening.
Yellowhammer spoke with Aderholt on his experience with the festival.
The Congressman has been a sponsor of Rock the South for the past three years. He stated that the festival is a good investment as it brings attention to not only Cullman, but the state as well.
“I hope this is something that continues for many years,” Aderholt said.
Check out pictures from the event (c/o Getty images) In the slideshow above.