STEUBENVILLE - Mother Nature smiled down on the 2013 Stars and Stripes Concert and Festival, providing ample sunshine, a few rain drops and a cool breeze Sunday evening as three entertainment acts took the stage and encouraged the concert goers "to have some fun tonight."
The third-annual event kicked off under sunny skies with a classic car show in the Harding Middle School parking lot and a free Family Fun Zone on the Harding Practice where children of all ages climbed and bounced on the Kurt James inflatable games and watched in awe as members of the Society For Creative Anachronism dressed in medieval clothing and used swords, staffs and other weapons to battle on the grass.
The orchestrated battle saw warrior after warrior fall victim to his opponent.
HEADLINE ACT — Phil Vassar took the stage Sunday evening and immediately had the 2013 Stars and Stripes Concert and Festival crowd in Harding Stadium dancing and singing to his music. Steubenville was Vassar’s second stop on his summer tour. The singer-songwriter said he wanted to leave a memory and there was no doubt he had succeeded when he finished his part of the concert 70 minutes later. -- Dave Gossett
PERFECT HARMONY — Shaylyn, Jamie and Marybeth Joseph wowed the audience Sunday night at the 2013 Stars and Stripes Concert and Festival with their perfect, “sister” harmony. -- Dave Gossett
But, after each battle both men hugged one another and retreated to the shade of a nearby tent.
"We are based out of Wheeling, but we try to recruit members from throughout the area. We have members from 20 years of age to 50 years of age. We demonstrate fencing, heavy fighting as well as the art of making mead," explained a woman in medieval clothing named Lelija.
Eleven-year-old Andoni Demitras joined his two brothers and grandparents in a tour of the inflatable games.
"I watched the people in costume fight each other and now we are going to get something to eat and watch the bike riders," announced Demitras.
The Dialed Action Sports Team on the BMX bikes brought a crowd to the grandstands during its two shows Sunday afternoon as riders performed a variety of tricks and stunts on the two wooden ramps.
"We want to hear a lot of noise here today if you want to see these guys perform their tricks," encouraged the master of ceremonies.
April and Kody Wiley of Rayland were among the people cheering and applauding the riders as they did tricks on the small bikes that others could only imagine.
"We came for the bike show, but this is a nice event today. It seems like there is something for everyone and adults and kids," said Kody Wiley.
The McCalister family of Steubenville also was in the grandstands for the BMX performance.
"We brought the kids for a fun event and they are really having fun. The little ones are enjoying the bouncing inflatable house and the bike show. We will go home for a break later on and then come back for the fireworks show," said Drake McCalister.
At the nearby food court, Anita and Gary Hallock enjoyed pulled pork sandwiches from Baby Boyz BBQ Ribs as they waited for the concert to begin in the stadium.
"This is a wonderful event for the community. The weather is perfect and I think Sue Hershey and the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce put on an extraordinary effort to put all of this together," said Gary Hallock.
"This is a great day in Steubenville and I wish more people would take advantage of the event," added Anita Hallock, who also said she and her husband were looking forward to the concert.
City resident Earl Cramblett said the 2013 Stars and Stripes Concert and Festival was "the most successful event of the past three years."
"We are truly blessed in this community to have people who get involved to organize something like this. We have a great day long event here in the middle of the city and we should all be proud and thankful," added Cramblett.
Jennifer Cesta, the coordinator for the fun zone, said she was pleased with the turnout.
"The weather cooperated with us today and I think people really enjoyed the inflatable games and the BMX bike show was a major draw," Cesta said.
As the day continued, the crowd slowly drifted toward Harding Stadium where the Joseph Sisters were the opening act for four hours of country music.
The Todd Jones Band was next on the stage, delivering some traditional country music with gospel, Neil Diamond and Hank Williams Jr. songs mixed into their performance.
"Thank you, thank you. But the big guy is coming up next so make sure you are ready for some rocking music," urged Jones.
When Phil Vassar took the stage at 8:30 p.m. he immediately invited the audience to join him in front of the stage.
"I wish we had more people, but I know the people in the stadium tonight are having a great time. This is the result of a lot of hard work by so many faithful volunteers," Hershey added.
Event co-Chair Tricia Damewood-Maple agreed, and said it was, "a fantastic day for everyone."
"Hollywood City Center was filled with people. It was a really fun day for everyone who were working here today and the people who came to the festival and the concert," said Damewood-Maple. Hollywood City Center was the title sponsor for the event.
"The help from our partners to put all of this together was tremendous. This year's event was the easiest to coordinate. We have learned from our past events and next year will be even bigger and better. I really don't know why we don't have 5,000 people here today, because this has been a great day for everyone," noted co-Chair John Cucarese.
From the opening ceremonies to the grand finale of the fireworks, Mayor Domenick Mucci was a constant spectator and particpant.
"It has truly been a fantastic day for our city. This was a great way to spend a Sunday, meeting visitors to the city and spending time with friends," he said.
Mucci and several council members presided over the drawing that saw Larry Renzelli of Steubenville win a 2013 Ford Fusion from TEAM Automotive during the Save the Belleview Pool drawing.
Bill Bryant of Dennison won the 50-inch flatscreen television from Frank & Jerry Appliance store, Dominic Pucci IV of Weirton was the winner of a Weber gas grill from M&M True Value Hardware and Brazin Nelson was awarded a season pool pass for the Belleview Pool.
(Gossett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)