Fans attending Sunday’s performances at the Carolina Country Music Fest got an extra treat when they got to be entertained by not one Hunter Hayes, but two.
Landon Wall, 11, of High Point, N.C., joined Hayes on stage to perform “Secret Love.”
“I met him on his bus earlier [Sunday] and we ran through the songs,” Landon said, almost giddy. “We decided to do ‘Secret Love’ because it would give it more intensity.”
The home-schooled rising sixth-grader has been impersonating Hayes with the Mini Starz organization, which is made up of young performers who impersonate celebrity singers. Landon has performed as performed as Justin Bieber and will perform as Hayes and Ed Sheeran this summer twice a week in Myrtle Beach with Mini Starz.
“Hunter Hayes is my favorite though,” he said. “He’s a really good guy and he’s really humble. And he plays all the instruments there are.”
The performance was one of the highlights of the three-day festival – featuring headlining performances from Lady Antebellum, Eric Church and Rascal Flatts – where Hayes also met with 19-year-old Savannah Thompson.
Event organizer’s Full House Productions announced recently that they would be donating a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales to Savannah’s Playground, a space inspired by Thompson, which will serve as a playground for children with disabilities.
Shiela Fletcher with the festival presented Thompson with a check for $10,000 to go toward the playground, which is being coordinated by Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes.
“It’s a $3 million project, so we’re thankful for any amount that gets donated,” Rhodes said.
Playground organizers are trying to raise $1.5 million to go toward its construction.
Festival-goers said they had a great time at the festival, with many adding that they would come back were the festival held again – a sentiment many of the performers shared during their sets.
“Thank y’all so much for having us,” Kellie Pickler said during her performance. “We’ll come back any time you ask us to.”
Tammy Sessoms of Cheraw said she was happy with her last minute decision to attend the festival.
“I was looking forward to seeing Colt Ford, but I was the most impressed with Big & Rich,” she said Sunday evening. Ford and Big & Rich performed on Saturday. “[Big & Rich] engaged the crowd more than anybody else.”
Sessoms said she’d never attended a festival similar to CCMF but would definitely come back in the future especially with it being only a two-hour drive from home.
“It was amazing,” she said. “It’s something they always have in places like Nashville or Texas – places we’re never going. Plus, when you go somewhere familiar because you’re comfortable getting around and knowing where you’re staying.”
Bob Durkin, president of Full House Productions, said he was incredibly happy with the what has been called the inaugural Carolina Country Music Fest.
“It’s been phenomenal,” he said. “I’m excited. I’m touched by how much Myrtle Beach, all of the Carolinas, the Southeast has come to support it. ... We’re already thinking about next year.”
Durkin said depending on how the festival grows, he could see the event growing to even more days.
The festival capped off Sunday night with a performance from Lady Antebellum and organizers said they were very happy with the weekend, which also included a kickoff concert Thursday featuring Sam Hunt.
“Adding that fourth day wasn’t the original plan, but it really worked out well,” he said. “We’ll be back.”
Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or on Twitter @TSN_mprabhu.