(Photo by Bobby A. Solorio/KNCI Promotion)

Our Craziest Stories From Past Country In The Park Shows

By Tom Mailey

Anytime you get 10-14,000 people together in one place, you’re going to have some crazy. Or weird. Or completely unexpected. We’ve shared a few of these stories on the air over the years but others, we’re sharing for the first time.

Kara Lawson Loses Her Keys 

Losing your keys isn’t too unusual, but the way former Sacramento Monarch (and now national TV broadcaster for college basketball and the NBA) Kara Lawson was: in a backstage porta-potty. Yep. Right down the hole. Guess who fished them out for her? Pat. Who then spent the rest of the concert washing his hands.

Bucky’s in the Beer Tent

Almost sounds like the title of a song, huh. One of the things we loved about Bucky Covington was his complete lack of pretension–probably the most regular guy in an industry full of “regular guys” that we’ve ever met. Case in point: after playing his portion of CITP in 2007, Bucky went missing. Nobody could find him and his label rep was starting to worry. Finally, word came back Bucky had been found… in the beer tent, hanging out with fans and buying beers for his new friends.

You Guys DO Know Who You Are, Right?

Speaking of regular dudes: we’ve told this story a lot but it bears repeating, especially in light of the passing of Troy Gentry last year. Montgomery-Gentry headlined CITP in 2002. Most headliners–even at our shows–you don’t see them until just before their set and they leave right after. Not Eddie and Troy. They hung out, mingled, and after their set–which was to the largest CITP crowd to that point–they even helped carry a fan’s heavy cooler to their car!

That Food Guy Sure Is Nice

One year we hung around the food services tent a little more than we normally would’ve because the guy dishing out the chicken and pasta was just so cool to hang and talk with. Funny dude, with a great personality, a winning smile and crazy spiked, platinum colored hair. He owned a new restaurant in town, Tex Wasabi’s. He was Guy Fieiri…just a year or so before he became, you know, Guy Fieiri.

Please Don’t Whiz on the KNCI Van

We don’t know the guy’s name but one year, this dude who was dressed up like a legendary pro wrestler (and actually bears more than a passing resemblance) was having himself a great time the year Joe Nichols played. Maybe too good a time: we caught him taking a leak on the tire of the KNCI promotions van, which was parked near the side of the stage. He was WWE-jected.

Holy Blow Up Doll

Because the video for his hit at the time, “Brand New Girlfriend” had one in it, a fan of artist Steve Holy decided to break out an inflatable doll during his set and turn it over to the crowd, beach ball-style. Yes, it was one of those kinds of blow-up dolls. She lasted his set and most of Joe Nichols’ set too before…well, we don’t know what happened to her. And that’s probably just as well.

Randy Needs Some Eggs

Randy Travis headlined our very first Country In the Park. At that time, Randy was way into fitness, and had worked out prior to the show. But he always liked following his workout by having eggs–protein, you know. Well, there weren’t any eggs on his bus, and nobody was available to run to the store to get Randy some eggs. So his bus driver did. WITH the tour bus.

A Titanic Example of Bad Taste

One year, Pat and I noticed a strange attraction in the kids area: a gigantic inflatable slide…built to look like the Titanic. It’s stern was even up in the air, just like it was about to go under. We understood it: the movie had been a huge hit and was only a few years old. But really? A kids’ plaything inspired one of the worst human disasters in history?

Leanne Rimes’ Dog Takes A Walk…And Something Else

Before the gates opened at CITP 2005, Leanne, who headlined that year, took her very large German Shepard across the still-empty infield for a walk, where he proceeded to take a very large…. you-know-what…on the grass. To her full credit, Leanne came prepared and had a bag to scoop it up with. We’re pretty sure it was a hefty bag.

Baby Time

A fan went into labor near the front of the stage. It didn’t help that it was over 100 degrees. Pat and other KNCI personnel quickly escorted her backstage, iced her down and kept her calm til paramedics were able to transport her out.

You Dropped Your Hair

While walking through the crowd at Country in the Park 2014, I noticed what I thought might be a dead animal on the ground. Kicking it with my foot, I discovered it was actually a dust-covered hair extension. Turns out, it was left over from an earlier fight between two young ladies in the crowd. I did not turn it in to Lost and Found.

Maybe That’s Why He’s Hard To Love

The day Lee Brice opened Country in the Park at Gibson Ranch was one of the hottest we’ve ever had for a CITP. If you were there you probably remember Lee up top of the fire truck ladder, hosing everyone down because it was so, so scorching. Well, a little while after his set, we walked by his trailer and the clothes he’d just worn were outside, spread out on the ground, soaking wet. We asked one of the roadies if the firefighters had soaked him down after he got offstage and the guy said nope, those clothes were just 100% soaked in sweat and they just were trying to dry them out because they didn’t have a washer. Right. Ew.

The Driver Was An Animal Lover

Sawyer Brown was almost late to their show not only because their plane was behind schedule but on the way to Gibson Ranch from the airport, their shuttle driver jammed on the brakes and came to a complete stop because…a squirrel had run onto the road. When they asked him why he’d stopped, he said he didn’t like killing animals. Lead singer Mark Miller’s reaction? He shook his head and said, with bewilderment, “Californians”.

He’s a Wanderer

One artist, whom we cannot name, was assigned a special handler backstage because he was known to “wander off”.

It’s All About The Show

Another artist whom we’d rather not name–but if you were there might recall–was lifted onto the stage for the start of their show by a prop elevator…even though the stage was only about six feet off the ground. And, even though it was the middle of the afternoon and about 100 degrees, this artist also made sure the stage was adorned with lit candles.

Oh, Hey Dierks. Enjoying The Show?

When he played Country in the Park in 2010, the year it was downtown, Dierks Bentley was already a pretty big star. But he didn’t act like it, at all. We were standing just outside the backstage fence area during the Eli Young Band’s set, with fans, when a dude suddenly rolls off a side street on a bicycle. Took us a few seconds to recognize him–and nobody else did: it was Dierks. He’d been out for a ride around town for a little exercise. He hung with us for a few minutes and watched the show…and nobody but us ever did realize who it was.

Those are just a few of the wackier memories we can recall at the moment. Who knows, maybe we’ll have a couple more to add to the list after this Saturday!

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