Carolina Country Music Fest a place to see stars ... and be seen

Through the cluster of cowboy hats, bikini tops and boots emerged a few stars of the Carolina Country Music Fest.

They posed for photos. They chatted up women. At least one received an unsolicited kiss.

And no one knew their names.

All the crowd saw was a group of guys wearing cutoff overalls and Daisy Dukes. Cowboy boots? A must. Shirts? Optional.

“Society has this whole sexist thing,” said Clay Forenpohar, a mini-jort clad 21-year-old in town with some buddies from Camp Lejeune. “Girls can do this. Girls can do that. Why can’t guys wear short shorts? … We’re just here to have a good time.”

Fellow cutoff cowboy Jerome Verfurth learned about the popularity of skimpy denim at another recent concert. He knew what would happen this weekend.

“Couple weeks ago, we went to [see] Brad Paisley in Raleigh, they were everywhere,” the 21-year-old said of the women who wanted photos with him. “So I expected it.”

Such was life Saturday among the thousands of music fans at Myrtle Beach’s latest big-draw festival – a place to be seen. The event also offered folks a chance to see some of their favorite country acts, and even talk to a few of them. The line to the Jack Daniel’s tent grew long when Cowboy Troy and John Rich of Big & Rich began signing autographs.

Carly Pyatte of Holden Beach, N.C., said she had to meet the artists of “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” fame.

“It was exciting,” the 19-year-old said after getting some signed koozies. “They were really down to earth.”

Tiffany Smyre, a 27-year-old from Hickory, N.C., also secured some autographed schwag. Smyre has been to every day of the festival, which wraps up Sunday.

“I love country music,” she said. “I love everybody that’s played so far.”

Overall, she said, the event has gone well, with the exception of Sam Hunt’s show starting earlier than scheduled Thursday. Hunt’s set was moved up because of the potential for inclement weather.

“I didn’t get a notification about it,” she said. “So I was a little upset about that, but otherwise it’s been good so far.”

Although Smyre is a Big & Rich fan, her main mission this weekend was to see Eric Church.

When asked about a favorite song, she started to say, “Drink in My Hand,” then corrected herself.

“‘Sinners Like Me,’” she said. “That’s got to be my favorite.”

Along with fans, the festival also drew a variety of vendors, including Down N Dirty Hat Co., which, as the name suggests, sells the cowboy staple at concerts throughout the United States.

“We have all different types of customers,” Justine Bohrer said as she rang up sales. “We have everyone, old, young, everyone’s just trying to have a good time.”

So far, she’d heard upbeat reviews about the festival and business had been going well.

“Everyone’s enjoyed themselves,” Bohrer said. “I definitely think that the city needed something like this.”

Contact CHARLES D. PERRY at 626-0218 or on Twitter @TSN_CharlesPerr.

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