That was the theme of the 26th annual WIOV Turkey Hill Fallfest on Sunday. Organizers and performers at the Manheim Township concert paid tribute to those who lost their lives during a Las Vegas country concert a week prior.
While the tragedy was on the minds of many, it didn’t stop an approximate 15,000 country music fans from coming out to Overlook Community Park to enjoy the day.
Trace Adkins headlined the show. North Carolina natives Parmalee, Radio Disney star Jessie Chris, Lancaster County band Fast Lane and Maryland singer Devon Nickoles also performed on the main stage.
WIOV program director Rich Creeger started the day by leading the crowd in a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the Las Vegas shooting.
“I thought that was very respectful,” said Patricia Sheppler, of Lancaster.
After the moment of silence, Creeger thanked the crowd for coming out after the national tragedy.
“No one is going to scare us away from doing what we do, and that’s coming out and having a great time,” Creeger said.
Later in the day, Creeger addressed the audience again after mingling with some attendees.
“You guys are country strong out there,” Creeger said.
Last week, WIOV shared an official statement about the Las Vegas shooting. Creeger said he felt it was a crucial issue to address.
“I just think it’s important that people feel safe and they feel secure and they feel comfortable, and that we can all band together as a country music family and we can be vigilant and go forward,” Creeger said.
Creeger said that security plans have been in place for a decade should a major incident occur at Fallfest. The station has made security changes throughout the years, such as no longer allowing coolers and limiting bag sizes.
Bag checks were more thorough at entrances this year, making lines longer to get in. The average wait time was 45 minutes to an hour, several attendees said.
Most concertgoers were patient and didn’t mind the longer wait. Jodi Foltz, a first-time Fallfest attendee, said she understood the need for more thorough security.
“We’ve been to other concerts, and you know, this is different probably because of the recent events, and probably last year people got through a little faster,” said Foltz, of Lancaster. “But that’s OK. You have to do security.”
Mary Haldeman, of Mohnton, also didn't mind the longer wait. Haldeman has attended six or seven Fallfest concerts.
“It makes you feel a little safer,” Haldeman said.
From the stage
During her midafternoon set, Chris dedicated her song “The Human Race” to victims of the Las Vegas shooting. She said the heightened security gave her mixed emotions.
“It’s bittersweet,” Chris said. “It makes me feel good that I can kind of not worry so much about the safety of my team and everyone attending the show, but it’s also sad that it has to come to this. … Concerts are supposed to be fun.”
Parmalee frontman Matt Thomas addressed the event from the stage as well.
“We’re all a part of one big family, you guys. … It was very heartbreaking to see what happened,” Thomas said.
There were plenty of joyful moments Sunday too, like Parmalee playing its hit song “Sunday Morning,” or Adkins’ spirited performance of “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.” The crowd danced, clapped and sang along with glee.
“Music alleviates a lot of that. It alleviates a lot of that fear,” Creeger said. “Music is love.”