All Back Roads lead to Galva
When the glaciers crawled across what was someday to become Western Illinois, Mother Nature created a perfect natural amphitheater in what was to be Galva Illinois. The ground behind the Galva Park District has a natural dip and goes into a gradual slope up to the Herbster House atop the hill. There is not a bad seat in the house.
Saturday, August 14, a year of disappointment followed by a frantic period of planning culminated in the 7 th Back Road Music Festival. It was as if they had never missed a beat.
Friday, three semi trucks full of equipment from ATSAV in Springfield, IL arrived, a stage sprang up out of the manicured lawn within three hours, sound and lights were complete within six hours. Nate Wilson of ATSAV admitted it comes down a lot faster. After the last act leaves the stage, the process of getting it all back on the trucks begins.
Volunteers are the backbone of this event. From collecting tickets and parking cars to assisting concertgoers with any issues that might crop up, the volunteers are there to make sure the day goes off seamlessly.
Event organizer, Tyler Glaser, stated that the event really belongs to the volunteers. Two groups take charge and are instrumental in getting it to come off, one group that works all week, putting up fences, tents, and ticketing and the group that is there the day of the event. Roughly between 100-150 volunteers participate. "This really is their Festival."
Ringing the east end of the area are the merchandise vendors for the individual artists, a tent where the Galva Boy Scout Troop is selling chances to win a Fender acoustic guitar autographed by all four of the day's headliners, and food and drink vendors, many of which benefit local organizations.
Glaser was proud that over $12,000 was raised to benefit the Quad City Honor Flight. The Historical Society netted $1500. Glaser confided that there is no payday for the organizers. "We got jobs. The proceeds go back into next year's festival, and to give back to our community."
Atop the hill overlooking the events, two ambulances sit at the ready, and a few uniformed policemen scan the crowd from their vantage point. A conversation with Sgt. James Robertson of the Galva Police Department reveal they are there as an additional measure. Security is milling about through the crowd to keep any unseemly behavior at bay. Should something get out of hand, the Galva PD, and the county deputies are there to help manage it.
Jim Roesner of Stark County Ambulance does not expect to have any trouble, but has two ambulances on site, and one more in the garage in town in case.
The show kicks off with Sean Stemaly on the main stage. He was called up from his home in Newberg IN, on two days notice, due to an unexpected cancellation from Seaforth, the group originally to play in this slot.
Travis Denning takes the stage in the number two spot. The crowd in the Hog Trough (the area nearest the stage) takes notice, and the dancing begins. An estimated 3000 concertgoers attended.
Late afternoon comes, and with it Tracy Lawrence. As the sun sets behind the wind turbines to the west, he rolls off his list of hits, wrapping it up with "Paint Me a Birmingham", with full audience participation.
The final and most anticipated act of the day is Randy Houser, who strolls onto stage just after dark, and the crowd is ready to party like it's 2019 and they haven't missed a beat.
After all the acts have left the stage, and the revelers have packed up their lawn chairs and headed for the car to take that Back Road home. Hopefully to return again next year.