Large white balloons, triangles of orange fabric and dozens of tents were set up on North Railroad Avenue in downtown Opelika for the final day and main event of Concourse/south, the city’s second annual music and art festival, on Saturday.
“It’s been a great week," said Richard Patton, organizer of Concourse/south. "Every night was a great night, and you always want more people of course. But it’s the first year so we’re excited, and we think we’ll grow on this. For us, the goal was, whoever attended, if they had a great experience, then it was a success and we could keep going for next year.”
Outside of the ticket booth and entrance, the Maker’s Market allowed passerbyers to browse the stands of local vendors freely without having to pay for a ticket.
Handcrafted leather goods from Loyal Stricklin, new and used vinyl records from 10,000 Hz, paintings, bird houses, bowls and coffee mugs, clothes, jams, prints, jewelry and an abundance of other handmade goods were available for purchase as guests chatted with vendors and exchanged cash as they meandered through the rows of tents.
Hannah and Russell Baggett, owners of 10,000 Hz, said their stand got a steady stream of customers throughout the course of the day.
“People are meeting one another while they’re browsing records so it’s space to create more of a community than what already exists … it’s like a ‘support your local business’ type of mentality,” Hannah Baggett said.
Through the main gate, tents were set up by the railroad tracks that were occupied by guests lounging on wooden pallets draped with blankets and pillows.
Though diverse, the crowd’s numbers at any given point left something to be desired for a music festival, with small clusters of parents with strollers and toddlers and groups of hip, young students were scattered about the brick road and sidewalk pavement here and there.
Several food vendors were set up directly in front of Red Clay Brewing Company along with employees of the Lee County Humane Society holding the leashes to several dogs available for adoption.
In the courtyard beside John Emerald Distilling Company, lights were strung from the chipped light-green paint of the surrounding buildings’ exterior walls over the pea gravel lot in front of the main stage.
Bands of both local and national popularity performed at Concourse/south, flooding Opelika’s downtown with the sound of live music from 11 a.m. on Saturday to 2 a.m. on Sunday, only to be briefly interrupted by the occasional passing train from the adjacent railroad tracks.
Six speakers hung from the stage’s metal canopy, backdropped by a rusty, old truck from Spicer’s Music.
Rows of amplifiers, sound device boxes, cymbals, drums and guitar cases lined the floor of what used to be a storage warehouse now turned concert backstage where different bands and musicians spoke to each other. They snacked on complimentary chips, fruit, bottled water and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and fiddled with musical equipment, either preparing to go on or packing up after a set.
Jackson Gafford from Captain Kudzu went on at 3 p.m. and said he enjoyed being able to play there and hear other musicians as well.
“I was really into [Devon Gilfillian]," Gafford said. "He was really good. I liked his set a lot, and I liked how his guitar was set up and everything. ... As an attendee, I love all of my friends and got to see them. I thought the sound was good, and I really liked the set-up. I loved it because I don’t live here anymore, so it’s good to come back.”
Some bands drew crowds of listeners to the foot of the stage more effectively than others, with the courtyard sometimes having no more than a few listeners and at other times having up to 50 throughout the day.
Later in the night, blue and yellow lights flooded the stage with the overhead lights casting a warm glow on the audience of Marc Scibilia, a rock musician from Nashville who gave out 50 free records to audience members after the show.
Patton then invited festival-goers inside John Emerald Distillery to listen to bands Wray, The Dirty Lungs and Lady Legs as they played into the late night.