VetFest a ‘premier free concert’


The Clark Hill Band from Starke closes Saturday’s linuep at the free VetFest Music Fest with country and Southern rock sounds from 10 to 11 p.m. at the Thunder Music Park. (Courtesy of the Clark Hill Band)

Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 10:49 a.m.

An outdoor music festival with 16 performers, a car show, kids’ area, food vendors and completely free admission? That’s the approach and steadfast commitment of the VetFest Music Fest, which returns this weekend to the Thunder Music Park, 9057 U.S. 301, Hampton.

As in previous years, the festival features a variety of bands and performers from around Florida all while raising funds (through vendor fees and donations) for local veteran groups.

“I’m billing this year’s VetFest as Bradford County’s premier free concert,” says Jim Mitzel, VetFest chairman and founder of the event, which marks its seventh year though the location and name has changed slightly over the years.

“Our goal is to raise awareness of veterans, raise money for veterans and the different veteran causes that we donate to; it’s just a free event to help us raise money for all of our veteran groups that we donate to.”

This year’s event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, offers a somewhat more focused blend of sounds from area acts than in previous years, Mitzel says.

“This year is a mixture of old country, Southern rock and a little bit of rock ’n’ roll,” he says.

Saturday’s lineup starts at 10 a.m. with Gainesville country singer Pete Enwall and follows with such performers as Dave Martin (of Martin & Breslin), Natalie Nicole Green (who also will sing the national anthem on Saturday at 3 p.m.) and others including the Clark Hill Band, which closes the day with a set from 10 to 11 p.m.

On Sunday, the show opens up at 9 a.m. with Doug Williamson playing and then Steve McMullen is at 10 a.m. Others performing on Sunday include Crossfire Warriors, the Gonzo Gators, 5 Line Blind, Black Creek Rizin’ and Southern Ruckus, which ends the day Sunday with a set from 3 to 4 p.m.

Fans of Jimi Hendrix will hear songs by the ’70s guitarist on Saturday during a set by the Bridgett Kelly Band and on Sunday during McMullen’s set, Mitzel adds.

This year’s event also is going for a more family friendly appeal by offering a first-time children’s area with a bounce house and other activities, a car show on Sunday and plenty of food vendors both days, Mitzel says.

Both days also will feature a LifeSouth blood mobile and a mobile veterans unit from Tallahassee, which will be able to assist veterans onsite with various needs.

Money raised through vendor fees and donations will be donated to such groups as Vetspace in Gainesville and Cabin in the Woods in Lake City among others, says Mitzel who adds that attendees can bring canned or dried food items for donation to the Bradford Food Pantry.

Contact Entertainment Editor Bill Dean at 374-5039 or at bill.dean@gvillesun.com, and follow on Twitter @SceneBillDean.

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