Fans start party early for Florida Country Superfest


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It was one big parking lot party by the St. Johns River on Friday as fans revved up for this weekend's Florida Country Superfest with a pre-festival concert.

Hundreds of people were filling up RV City and the fairgrounds Friday night to kick off a fun-filled weekend that will feature some of country music's biggest starts rocking the stage at EverBank Field.

A tight-knit group of about 15 RV campers pitched in to bring some live entertainment to the parking area the night before the festival.

Many of the fans are itching to see country superstar Luke Bryan perform, but they found something else to fill the void until the main party starts on Saturday.

"Tonight everybody pitched in and we got a band, X Hale is the band, and we're just going to cook and have fun," said country fan Michelle Stuhr. "We're going to kind of just hang out and hopefully not get too bad so we can make it to the concert."

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Jimmy Lee, a member of X Hale, said he met the party hosts a few years back and played for them at several Florida/Georgia games. He said when his band was asked to play a pre-show for the country superfest, he couldn't say no.

"It's going to be a good turn out," Lee said. "Looks like there's a lot of people here for the concert. They'll get a little dose of us tonight before they get the superstars tomorrow."

And there was no shortage of things to do at the party Friday night from plenty of food to a kiddie pool to splash around in when it got too hot.

X Hale will be out in the lot next to WJCT all weekend – and the group said the more the merrier.

Another band, Lonely Highway, which has been together for only a month, also put on a show Friday night. It was the first performance for the young band members, who are barely out of high school.

"I'm the oldest, at 22, and it ranges all the way down to 17," said band member Trey Orberg. "Honestly, it's really an awesome feeling because this is our first show ever outside the garage, so to be able to play on the coattails of all the greats that are going to be there tonight is awesome."

Even though the band has only been together about 30 days, all six band members have been playing music for years.

"I've been playing since the ninth grade, 14 years old," Orberg said. "I've played many instruments. … We just have that love and that passion for music. Anytime that you can bring happiness into the world, if you do something that you love, then you're bringing love into the world also."