Entertainment

Garner preps for possible 'Idol' visit

Posted May 6, 2011 3:25 p.m. EDT
Updated May 9, 2011 1:39 p.m. EDT

— The Town of Garner is preparing for a possible hometown visit from "American Idol" finalist Scotty McCreery. 

"Our town is excited. It's the buzz everywhere you go," said Beth Hunnicutt, who directs music at the Garner First Baptist Church, where McCreery sings.

McCreery, 17, a student at Garner Magnet High School, advanced this week to the top four contestants in this season's singing competition with performances of Montgomery Gentry’s "Gone" and Elvis Presley’s "Always on My Mind."

If he survives next week's vote, McCreery and an "American Idol" camera crew will be headed to Garner, where a concert and parade in his honor will be held next weekend.

"It's happening so fast. We've got to spruce up a little bit," Mayor Ronnie Williams said Friday.

Williams said crews are cutting the grass at Lake Benson Park, at 921 Buffaloe Road,  in preparation for a concert that could attract up to 30,000 fans.

"I hope they come with an empty gas tank, and I hope they come hungry, so they'll spend some money in Garner while they're here," Williams said.

The town has budgeted $51,000 for the celebration and is working to secure some corporate sponsors to help assist with the cost, Williams said.

The mayor advised fans to plan to arrive at the park no later than noon on Saturday. Pets, tents and coolers will not be allowed.

To prepare for the celebration, Williams said he has been talking to officials in Albemarle about their experience when local Kellie Pickler appeared on "Idol." Pickler finished sixth during season five of the show.

Even if McCreery doesn't make it to the final three contestants, Williams said he thinks the town will see a positive economic impact.

For now, Garner residents are happy just cheering him on.

"(It's just an) unbelievable opportunity he's been given. We're so proud of him, and he's making the most of it," Hunnicutt said.

If McCreery is voted out next week, the concert will not be held.