Despite the weekend’s hot, muggy weather and the increasing spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fifth annual Summer Salute Festival saw success, even breaking a record in the festival’s history.
While the event’s total attendance was lower than the last festival pre-pandemic, the Hopkinsville Division of Parks and Recreation saw the most Saturday attendance that the event has had in the history of the event.
Total attendance for the weekend is estimated at around 24,000, while the fourth annual Summer Salute Fest saw roughly 30,000.
Parks and Rec Marketing and Events Coordinator Taylor Duke shared with the New Era that Parks and Rec believes the hot weather and the COVID pandemic impacted this year’s total attendance, but was nevertheless a success for the department.
Summer Salute featured a free two-day music fest, and included over 100 food, drink and merchandise vendors, kid rides, and activities for all ages.
Each year the festival hosts multiple performers, with the biggest headliner playing Saturday night.
Friday night’s headliner was The Jimmy Church Band who performed classics on the Bluegrass Beverage Stage in Founder Square from 6-10 p.m. Church and his band “bring the boogie” spanned genres and decades in music to start the weekend off.
Clayton Q and Live/Wire opened for Church Friday afternoon providing tunes that were heard from each end of the festival.
This year’s Summer Salute culminated with Saturday’s performance by two-time Grammy Award Winner and country music icon, Travis Tritt, who played on “the big stage” in front of the Hopkinsville Justice Center.
However, up-and-coming country music artists Olivia Faye and Kyle Daniel opened for Tritt, warming up the massive crowd for his performance. Prior to their performance, 101st Division Air Assault Rock Band, Ethan Torsak Band and Country Twang Band also played music for festival goers.
Saturday’s festival music was presented by ATMOS Energy, Fortera Credit Union, Hopkinsville Electric System, Hopkinsville Water Environment Authority, Oak Grove Racing, Gaming & Hotel and Pennyrile Electric. The entire festival’s music acts were free of charge.
In addition to music, kids had a wide array of free activities at the Kid’s Zone locations at Summer Salute, including rides and bounce houses. With a new ride vendor, this year’s carnival section showcased rides for slightly older children.
Jennie Stuart Health sponsored the popular Kiddie Train that took children and families around the perimeter of the festival. This year’s festivities also included a petting zoo, which was a new feature.
Free amusement rides were sponsored by H&R AgriPower, Rachel Smith of Advantage Realty, T-Mobile, WKDZ/WHVO, WHOP/Lite 98.7, Higgins Insurance, Hopkinsville Solid Waste Enterprise, Beaver 100.3 FM, Continental Mills/Krusteaz, W&R Services, and Holiday Inn.
A great mix of craft and food vendors were also on-site Friday and Saturday to add to the festival atmosphere. The beer and beverage garden provided drinks to quench the thirst of festival goers in the heat over the weekend.