WRAL.com at the State Fair

Rockin' On Military Appreciation Day

Posted October 19, 2006

We were rockin' on Military Appreciation Day! -- eventually. I wasn't able to get to the fairgrounds until mid afternoon, which was enough time to grab some lunch and then make my way over to the grandstand...

... where absolutely nothing was happening. I hung around until a little after 4, then made my way to an information booth. Oooh, the grandstand area was too muddy so the concerts were moved. Why didn't they announce this on the loudspeaker? Even a little cardboard sign...

The Blue Aces performance at 4pm had been moved to between the Dorton Arena and the Jim Graham Building. Once you were in the area it was impossible to miss either the crowd or the guitar coming from the area.

The Blue Aces, an Air Force band from Virginia, tore it up. They had a tremendous amount of energy, which is additionally impressive because they were standing in direct sunlight and even the audience was getting a bit overheated.

SrA Andre Rascoe and SSgt Natalie Madison did some great singing across several genres of music (songs included "Knock on Wood", "Get it Started", and "Oye Como Va".) MSgt Eldon Sully contributed some great guitar solos, especially to Oye Como Va. It's too bad the Blue Aces didn't get to perform in the grandstand, they would have gotten a bigger crowd. They deserved a bigger one but it was hard to stop in all the foot traffic (got even harder when the ambulance came through) and there weren't any shady spots!

At least I knew enough at 8pm not to try to go back to the grandstand, and the loudspeaker was announcing that the US Navy Rock band would be playing near the armed forces displays. Which was where the Blue Aces had played. At a little before 8 I caught the band doing a sound check ("I Shot the Sheriff") but they didn't get going full blast until 8.

They didn't have to stand out in hot sunshine, obviously, but there wasn't as much traffic. On the other hand, you didn't have to get too close to hear them well -- after starting off with "Anchors Aweigh" (of course), the band swung into some sternum-thumping rock that included "What's Your Name," "8675309", and "R.O.C.K. in the USA". The US Navy Rock Band also played some slower numbers, with great acoustic guitar on "Blackbird".

The USA Navy Rock Band too deserved more crowd than it got, but at least there were places nearby to sit down and enjoy the performance.

I must have missed the flyover of the F-15 aircraft. There was a flyover -- well, it was more like a buzzover -- of a couple of helicopters. They circled the new midway then went and circled the Dorton Arena area a few times. I had an excellent view of the helicopters as I had chosen that time to taste-test the deep fried pickles. Unfortunately I didn't get any good shots of the helicopter (probably because I was taste-testing the deep-fried pickles.)
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