LAURINBURG — Thousands of people spent hours huddled together underneath the Scotland County stars on Saturday, most with grass or dirt beneath their feet and some covered in mud.
Fans of Colt Ford wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“Ain’t it good to be out here in the country on a Saturday night,” the country-rap musician asked the crowd at Laurinburg’s Outback Motorsports Complex. “I reckon the city folks are bored to death in the city wherever they are.”
Ford performed a two-hour set at nightfall, following musicians Ethan Hanson, Drayton Road, Clare Dunn and Kinsey Rose. His repertoire consisted of primarily original music including the songs “Country Thang,” “Good God O’Mighty,” and “Cricket on a Line.”
“We’re just trying to do it up a little bit, you know, trying to have some fun,” said Jesse Smith of Moore County. “I don’t like rap, but he sort of takes country songs and takes it to the next level.”
More than 6,000 people trailed into the 700-acre complex throughout the day after receiving word of the concert via advertising or social networking. The event also offered a chance to participate in or watch ATV, dirtbike and jeep races around the dirt tracks or through the woods.
Mike Evock, owner of the motorsports complex, said the concert was meant to bring exposure to Laurinburg, and the event lived up to expectations.
“We’re going to try to have maybe four concerts a year just because it was good for the community, everybody had a good time and enjoyed themselves, and it brought attention to Scotland County,” he said. “A lot of the people coming didn’t even know where Laurinburg was.”
Fan Jessica Sifford of Fayetteville classified Ford as “fan-friendly” and “a good time.” Ford proved her right by playing up his audience’s common bonds in his first minutes on stage.
“We’ve come out here to ride jeeps and stuff a few times and they told us he was coming,” said Monty Beard of Lumberton, who sat away from the masses with daughter Caroline.
Evock said that a date change and other area events may have drawn some away from the concert.
“I was expecting about 3,000 more,” said Evock. “This weekend we had a lot going on — Rockingham also had a concert with a very similar clientele and there was a tractor pull in Lumberton so I figure the numbers we lost went to those two events.”
But for some, there was simply no substitution for Colt Ford. Beard summarized Ford’s appeal to the crowd, stating that the professional golfer-turned-musician “sings about real stuff.”
“He’s funny,” Christopher Hardy of Fayetteville said of Ford’s lyrics. “I’m not comparing it, but if you ever listen to Big and Rich and Cowboy Troy, it’s just funny and it works.”
Though Hardy’s friend Bryan Garrett predicted that the night could disintegrate into “Drunk Redneck Fest 2013,” Evock said that, apart from a collision between a pickup truck and an ATV, the evening was flawless.
“Colt Ford loved it - we had professional security and local law enforcement involved and we had everything organized,” said Evock. “He said it was in the top five places he’d ever played and he wants to come back.”
Some 1,500 of the concertgoers stayed at Outback Motorsports Complex for the entire weekend, parking their campers on Thursday evening.
“We had a ton of campers for the weekend,” said Evock. “All my camping spots sold out and people stayed through to Sunday morning.
Many in attendance were first-time visitors to the complex, but said that they will be back with their trucks and ATVs to take on the great outdoors.
“We came to see Colt Ford and get dirty in the mud,” said Robbie Jacobs of Whiteville. “I’d definitely come again whether there’s a concert or not.”