The 2017 Hillsboro Festival of the Bells wrapped up Saturday evening with a performance from country pop star Brett Young, who drew record crowds surpassing the amount of people who came to see Taylor Swift perform 10 years ago, according to festival committee president and entertainment chairman Rick Williams.
“It was a tremendous Saturday night,” Williams told The Times-Gazette. “A lot of people sold out of food early… Brett Young is just on fire right now.”
Williams said he was hesitant to estimate how many people were in attendance, although he said the numbers were in the thousands, and definitely surpassed Taylor Swift’s performance in 2007.
“There’s no doubt about that,” he said. “A lot of people came and visited town. Some people said they hadn’t been here for 10 years and wanted to come back to Hillsboro and enjoy themselves… I think that’s encouraging, people visiting town, then they come back and shop later or visit later. It’s a positive situation.”
The festival opened Thursday with a parade through the center of town featuring local law enforcement, fire departments, businesses and organizations, followed by performances by local Christian group HANDS and popular Christian singer Danny Gokey.
Heavy rain threatened to wash out Friday’s entertainment, but the downpour cleared in time for country star William Michael Morgan to take the stage after a delay.
Just before Morgan’s performance, the rain-drenched crowd enjoyed a double rainbow over the center of town while clearing storm clouds revealed the sunset.
Weather conditions improved further Saturday for Brett Young’s performance, during which one fan asked his girlfriend to marry him.
Young noticed the proposal, and remarked over loud applause, “She said yes.”
Williams said he was overall very pleased with the result of the festival, and is already looking ahead to next year.
“We had excellent support from the City of Hillsboro, the street department, police department, Paint Creek fire, all the support was great,” Williams said. “The city got more behind it this year than in past years, so we appreciate that… We’ll probably change a few things for next year. We usually try new things and see what works and what doesn’t work… We’ve got a couple suggesetions, and we’ll work on them and see what we can do.”
More photos can be found at timesgazette.com, as well as the festival’s website, www.festivalofthebells.com.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.