Country concert to make economy sing

By Chris Vessell bio | email

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - Some major names in country music will be taking the stage in Auburn this weekend for the Sticks Country Festival. Business owners say they are looking forward to the business the concert series will bring Lee County's local economy.

The festival sight appeared quiet on Wednesday, but in less than two days, the farmland will be filled with thousands of country fans. The two-day concert will feature 15 singing acts on Friday and Saturday.

"We're expecting out in this beautiful venue somewhere between 30 and 50 thousand. Obviously with such a large place we have a lot of room to grow in future years," David Adams, an event organizer said.

Organizers won't comment on how many tickets they've sold, but people in 35 states have purchased tickets so far. They plan for the event to kickoff a whole series of annual Sticks Festivals that will help their bottom line, not to mention others in the area.

"This is the first annual. It will be every spring where people can get out.  {They're} tired of the cold weather, tired of the rain. They want to get out and enjoy the sun and relax," said Adams.

Adams says at least two local officials have showed their support for the event. "Both individuals are huge advocates for sticks, packing hotels, bringing in money, local vendors.  So we're bringing money to our community," he said.

The main acts may be country stars, but they're receiving a rockstar welcome from local business owners, including at least one hotel owner. "Yes, it's mainly the Sticks that they're calling about.  We actually have people already in-house that have come several days early," said Carla Swindall, a hotel owner.

The owner of the Holiday Inn Express in Opelika says more than 80 rooms at her hotel are booked for the weekend thanks to the festival. "The economy hasn't been that great so this is going to be a good weekend," Swindall said.

Local grocery store managers say they are also gearing up for the concert. The event is allowing fans to bring their own coolers and grocery stores are looking to capitalize on that by stocking up.