After having four music festivals that we loved cancelled thanks to COVID-19 and having been isolated from friends, bars, restaurants, events, and lots of other fun things to do, I can't express how happy I was to find out that the first ever Newellfest was going to happen on May 22nd and 23rd. I was jumping for joy, had the RV and beer cooler packed a week before, and started listening to CDs every day so I could sing along with the musicians! I think I was driving my wife crazy with my excitement.
Newellfest was held on Star Ranch in Cresson, Texas which is about 25 miles southwest of Fort Worth. Star Ranch is a 76 acre ranch that offers the best in barrel racing and team roping facilities and training. Jeff and Teresa Deason (the Star Ranch owners) agreed to host this music festival on a portion of their beautiful ranch property!
Gary Newell and Charlene Newell, salt of the earth great people, put the festival together in less than 30 days. They found the property, rounded up over 30 sponsors, put up the stage and found the sound guys and a lot of other volunteers, got a few vendors, staffed the merch booth, and got 8 fantastic musicians to agree to play for free. Gary gave all of the proceeds from the festival to the musicians!
Thanks to COVID-19, I figured that there weren't going to be a lot of fans and I was really surprised when we pulled into the Ranch early Friday afternoon and there were already around 100 RVs dry camping on several acres starting 150 yards away from the stage.
At the entrance to the Ranch, we were offered a "Hugs OK" or a "Just Wave" sticker to show some compliance with COVID-19 restrictions. Part of what was going to make this festival a lot of fun are the fans who are a tight knit group of good folks who love music and and enjoy singing, dancing, drinking, laughing, hugging, and just having fun. Everyone at Newellfest was in an excellent mood and excited to get out of the house, reacquaint with friends, and listen to some good music. And it seemed everyone must have been wearing a "Hugs Ok" sticker, because there was a lot hugging, back slapping, dancing, and high fiving.
And the musicians were just as excited as the fans - it was the first gig for the majority of them in over 3 months and they all had a blast playing for us! The festival started around 5 on Friday with a great lineup that included:
What a great day of music, dancing, laughing, and drinking! I understand that the pickin' and singin' continued into the wee hours of the morning around a campfire while I was sawing some zzzs!
On Saturday around 4 Bobby Kerr and His Mustangs plus his dog and a low rider vintage Cadillac convertible put on a good show. Bobby (winner of the PRCA Specialty Act of the Year and Founder of the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame) got one of his mustangs to dance, do circles, and do a fancy back and forth with Bobby's dog. Next Bobby rode another mustang bareback, got it to kneel down with him on it and get back up (very difficult for a horse to do), then jump over the Cadillac, and finally get his mustang to climb in the Cadillac and sit in the passenger seat while Bobby drove off into the sunset. Impressive!
The rest of evening we were entertained by:
The fans at Newellfest were a tight knit group of older mature music lovers and all are friendly, outgoing, and welcoming.
In addition to fun fans and some good music, Del Norte Tacos served up some delicious tacos and Texas Silver Star provided a delicious free breakfast (eggs, sausage, hash browns, fruit, and more) and free BBQ - ribs, brisket, pork, chicken, beans, and slaw. Our thanks go out to them, the sound crew, James Mills the MC, and all of the other volunteers who made this festival fun for the rest of us. And a huge warm hug and thanks to Gary and Charlene Newell for all of their time and effort on making Newellfest a success - we hope you do it again next year!
Gary Newell stated on his Facebook Page: "Charlene and I would like to thank everyone who came out to the 1st Ever Newellfest at the Star Ranch! From the artists who jumped on board without any hesitation and no guarantee of compensation; to the support of multiple sponsors; to Teresa and Jeff Deason who enthusiastically shared our vision and provided the venue; to our always faithful group of volunteers; and to you, the music lovers, a collection of souls who completed the musical event full circle, and made our hearts so full!! As we move forward into 2020, we hope y’all will look back and remember there was a beautiful, special and sacred thing that happened on these days, and you supported it in full force! When music flows through the body, the reaction energy lifts the spirits and powers the goodness of this world."