Thunder On The Mountain – Day 1 – Through The Eyes Of HaleighT.
It is hard to believe that after months of preparation and exited jitters, the first-ever Thunder On The Mountain is behind us. After the three days of non-stop music, I find myself still trying to recover from my sleep deprivation and the loss of my voice.
My fun filled work-cation began Wednesday night, June 7. I drove through the beautiful Mulberry Mountains and arrived at the festival grounds to check in and get my media credentials. I then drove to Ozark and had supper at Rivertowne BBQ, the smoked bologna with baked beans was to die! While eating, my partner in crime for the weekend, Melissa and I made some new friends. They were a group, I believe from Iowa, who had floated the river all day and would also be attending TOTM.
Campground Set Up.
The next morning was a bit of a hectic one, not for me but for those campers who decided to be at the festival gates when they opened at 6am. My cousin, Amme, rolled into the area with her fiancé and a group of friends around 4am. They had eight trucks and 11 campsites between them, over 20 people in their own little village. To say this group came prepared and ready to party is an understatement! Their headquarters were fully equipped with tents, canopies, ice chests, generators, grills, yard games and more.
Fortunately for those festival goers who decided to wait for the sun to rise before they showed up, their entrance to the campgrounds and set up went a little smoother.
In my down time between morning responsibilities and the first show, I along with Melissa, Riley and Tia (two of my weekend neighbors) went to get the feel of the land. We saw some interesting campsites, passed out fans to cool off festival goers and crossed a treacherously muddy field. At one point we had to cross a newly formed river by using an air mattress that was left behind from Wakarusa as our bridge. We really should have followed the flags that marked off the rough areas…oops.
Although campers and festival goers were still rolling in, the music for the day and the entire weekend began at 12:45pm. The first band to take the Country Pavilion stage was Whiskey Myers and boy was this an excellent choice! They definitely set the mood for the weekend and got the crowd primed and ready to go.
As soon as Whiskey Myers set was over, the hardest part of TOTM began, choosing which stage to go to and what act to see, because from this point on there were multiple stages occupied with live performances. My day seemed like a whirlwind, I saw Aaron Watson, Shooter Jennings, parts of Bucky Covington, Greg Bates and Reckless Kelly before a short dinner.
I then, was BLOWN AWAY by Randy Houser’s performance. I had seen him before, but his type of energy on stage is infectious. He really had the crowd in his hands when gave a special tribute to the late George Jones (as did Shooter Jennings).
Big & Rich was the main act of the night and of course they rocked that Bud Light main stage! I couldn’t even begin to list all of the songs they performed, what with their originals and all of the covers. It was a party and I feel bad for anyone who missed it. They brought up several guests to the stage including a random couple, a soldier and Cowboy Troy! They of course ended the night with “Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy)” and “Rollin’ (The Ballad of Big & Rich).”
Although some would be completely worn out from such a long day, the night was young! I, along with my crew, went back to camp for a quick drink and the addition of clothing, although it was a hot day, that night was a little chilly. As I was grabbing my hoodie, we heard Kevin Fowler’s set begin. We had full intentions of making it to the Country Pavilion stage, but were stopped by some fellow campers. They begged us to join their campsite party, which included games! After careful consideration we decided to stay with our new friends. The way I saw it was, we could still HEAR Fowler’s set perfectly and this way we were being neighborly too!
The games and fun went well into Backroad Anthem’s set and beyond. I finally hit my pillow after 3:30am and was up by 7, just hours later.
And let me tell you my friends, I was ready for Day 2!