BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – He’ll never admit to being a country rapper, but Colt Ford put his wrap on Fort Madison’s third and most successful RiverFest since 2016 Sunday night.
After pushing aside a career in professional golf, Ford took to the country music genre with a zest for talk albums, while putting some of country’s biggest names on tracks with him.
Ford took the stage Sunday night on the final night of a festival that’s being hailed by many on the RiverFest committee as the most successful since its return in 2016.
“It exceeded expectations in every single way,” said RiverFest organizer Charles Craft. “There are really just very few words that I can come up with to describe what happened here.”
He said ticket sales were strong enough that the committee has already been able to put aside deposit funds for next year’s entertainment, which Craft said fans will be just as happy, “if not more” with that lineup.
“We’ve got funds to put toward deposits next year to ensure that the level of entertainment will not drop. Tri-State music fans will be very impressed with what we come up with next year,” he said.
The announcement of next year’s lineup will take place in March at Kinnick South.
Shawna Ross, marketing director, said it was the community that made the event great, with more than 5,000 tickets sold through the gates in four days. She didn’t have figures from additional online sales readily available.
“We’ve had people coming up to us all weekend, telling us how great it’s been and I turn it around and tell them they’re the reason for the success. We can bring it here, but there’s nothing like looking out over the crowd and not being able to see the end of it,” Ross said. “The fans are beyond happy. They’re thrilled to have this back and experience this in their hometown. This is great for our town.”
RiverFest Games co-chairman Doug Krogmeier said the competition part of this year’s event was on par with last year and competitors are happy with the events and the committee is now starting to see repeat contestants coming in from out of town.
“It certainly isn’t going backwards,” he said.
Saturday featured turn-of-the-century rockers Hinder with front man Marshall Dutton before the high-octane power rockers Pop Evil took the stage. After close to an hour of pounding rock, front man Leigh Kakaty climbed out onto the fans and finished the final song standing literally on top of the VIP section.
“You were here for that, right?,” Craft said Sunday morning at the Veteran’s Breakfast. “You saw Pop Evil walk out onto the crowd. That was epic and that says it all right there.”
Veteran’s honored again
For the second year, the American Legion will be able to send area veterans on an honor flight to Washington D.C. to see memorials at no cost to them. As part of the now annual charity breakfast, funds raised go to help send veterans on the flight out of Quincy as part of an ongoing effort initiated by WGEM television station.
Dan Vice, the commander of American Legion Post 82 in Fort Madison said the breakfast was so brisk that volunteers had to run to area stores to pick up more supplies.
“We ran out of eggs, pancakes, hashbrowns, and biscuits, so that’s a good thing. We were able to get more.”
Vice said the group is not only trying to raise funds to help offset costs for area veterans to make the flight, but also is still trying to get information to some veterans who are still unaware of the program.
“We’ve handed out quite a few applications for the honor flight today,” said post adjutant George Shields. “But we’re trying to make more veterans aware of it so we can get their names in and send them. We want more guys to go.”
Shields said there are about 3,600 veterans in Lee County alone. The Honor Flight for the veterans in this area typically goes out of Quincy, but there are other hubs, too, such as Cedar Rapids. Vice said the veterans in those areas are pretty in tune to the program, but those out in this part of Iowa aren’t as informed.
“There’s a lot of them out there that haven’t applied yet,” Vice said. “A lot of people, when we’re out collecting donations say, ‘Honor Flight for veterans?’ they didn’t even know that it was going on.”
Craft said the beer vendors donated all their tips from Saturday night’s sales to the Veterans’ Breakfast, which was $231.
“I think they’re going to raise a ton of money and they said they were up about 50% from last year already,” Craft said at about 10:45. The breakfast ran until noon.