By RACHAEL LONG
Though the date was selected months in advance, Saturday’s weather could not have been more sublime if the day were handpicked that morning. Brentwood’s Eddy Arnold Amphitheater at Crockett Park began to fill up in the late afternoon as families arrived to celebrate the city’s 50th birthday music festival, “Brentfest.”
City of Brentwood officials estimate attendance was about 6,000 people.
Though the temperature was in the mid-80s, a warm breeze staved off any threat of heat for festival-goers. Families, teenagers and couples filled the amphitheater’s large grassy area; some lounged on blankets, others on folding chairs, and a few could even be found between the park’s trees, swinging in hammocks.
A free community event, Brentfest began around 3 p.m. when Brentwood Academy graduate Conner Smith took the stage first. The park was laiden with food trucks, a beer garden, and a kids’ play zone. By the time Smith took the stage, Brentfest was already seeing the first of what would later become a packed event.
Smith played covers of several country hits like Barefoot Blue Jean Night by Jake Owen and Cop Car by Keith Urban. Throughout his musical career, Smith has opened for big-name country artists like Sam Hunt, Kane Brown and Kip Moore.
The young Brentwood native was the first of the four bands to take the stage, and his performance sparked an energy in the crowd which carried momentum throughout the rest of the evening.
Following Smith’s performance was Guilty Pleasures, a cover band playing mostly ‘80s hits. The band’s setlist included unmistakable oldie-but-goodies like Don’t You by Simple Minds, Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ and Take on Me by A-ha. Festival goers trickled to the stage to dance along to the popular songs.
Once the crowd had put on their dancing shoes, Cruizin’ Keys Dueling Pianos took the stage to keep the momentum rolling. The artists played songs like My Girl by The Temptations, Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison, Billy Joel’s Piano Man and even the viral hit Old Town Road by Lil Nas X. During their set, the dueling pianos group brought several children out for a dance near the stage.
Though the bands before them engaged the growing crowd, when headliners Tim Akers and the Smoking Section took the stage, people of all ages flocked to the stage to groove to the band’s sound. Along with the infectious rhythm of the melodies, the band’s brass section helped fill Crockett Park for the thousands gathered. The band played covers of several funk songs such as Superstition by Stevie Wonder, September by Earth, Wind and Fire and 1999 by Prince.
Brentfest is the second of three large events planned to celebrate the 50 years since Brentwood’s incorporation as a city on April 15, 1969. Its first event, the Golden Gallop Parade, took place earlier this year in the streets of Maryland Farms Office Park and featured local Brentwood businesses, schools, organizations and more.
The third and final event, Rendezvous at Ravenswood, is a community party which will take place on Oct. 10 at Ravenswood Mansion in Marcella Vivrette Smith Park.
All three events have been meticulously planned by a city committee, the 50th Steering Committee, led by chairwoman Vicki Sanford. Other committee members include Jodi Altsman Rall, John Maygar, Linda Hirsch, Sandra Tanksley, Shelley Alexander, Gina Gunn, Michael Kaplan, Jared Peters, Paula Uhlir and unofficial committee member City Commissioner Nelson Andrews.
“I’m so thankful for our committee and all of our sponsors that came together and made this big birthday event happen,” Sanford said.
The 50th anniversary events are sponsored by several businesses in the community, including presenting sponsor Tractor Supply Company. Because of the businesses supporting the events, they are free to the public and incur no additional cost to the city, Sanford said.
Sanford said the city began planning the celebrations in April of 2018, and the committee has met regularly for months to ensure the coordination and organization of every detail.
When asked about her impressions on the event’s turnout, Sanford said she thought Brentfest would rival the city’s fourth of July celebration.
“I’m just amazed,” Sanford said. “I think, as the sun goes down, it’s going to get even bigger.”
Presenting Sponsor — Tractor Supply Co.
Platinum Sponsors — Andrews Transportation Group, Brookdale, Brentwood Academy, LBMC
Gold Sponsors — Hill Center, CoreCivic
Silver Sponsors — Brentwood Hearing Center, City of Brentwood Historic Commission, FirstBank, Gresham Smith, Reliant Bank, Smith-Seckman-Reid, Inc., SVMIC, TMP
Bronze Sponsors — Brentwood Family Dentists, Capstar, Kaplan Ventures, Pinnacle Bank, Suzan and Michael Hindman, TwiceDaily. Uncle Barbershop, The YMCA, Zeitlin/Sotheby’s