GEORGE — Situated high above the majestic Columbia River, there truly is no better place to take in an outdoor concert that the 27,500-seat Gorge Amphitheatre.
“We came here all the way from Colorado,” said David Forester. “The Gorge is just awesome. I know that’s a vague description, but it’s really just the best concert venue that I have ever been seen. I’m not even a country music fan, but my wife is and this is our third Watershed Festival. I come here because you don’t have to like country music to enjoy this festival.”
The three-day country music extravaganza featured the likes of county music superstars Chris Young and Miranda Lambert (with the Pistol Annies) on Friday night, the Zac Brown Band Saturday night, and Kane Brown and Jason Aldean wrapping things up last night. Sure the majority of the thousands of festival attendees came to see the big names like Aldean and Lambert, but over on the “Next from Nashville Stage” there was some upcoming talent on display that could not be overlooked. Artists like Austin Jenckes (who will also be performing at this year’s Grant County Fair), Ross Ellis and Brandon Lay rocked the crowd in hopes of one day making it to the big stage at the Watershed Festival.
“I am a little weird when it comes to Watershed,” attendee Bryant Elston said while watching Austin Jenckes Friday night. “I almost prefer watching the new and upcoming acts rather than the headliners. The headliners are great and all, but knowing that you can watch someone before they make it big is something that appeals to me and the biggest draw to Watershed for me.”
Watershed really is a whatever-satisfies-your-country-music-appetite sort of place. The crowds that gathered around the main stage throughout the festival were a raucous and enthusiastic bunch.
“I came here for one reason and only one reason,” Burlington native Marla Stevens remarked before star Kip Moore opened his set Friday night. “It’s my birthday and my goal is to get Kip to sing me ‘Happy Birthday’ from the stage.”
“We know it’s a long shot, but we have been saving money to come here for months and that’s our goal,” chimed-in Stevens’ younger sister Jessica. “I am going to live vicariously through my sister if that happens, because we have been talking about this nonstop for weeks.”
The Stevens sisters didn’t get to achieve that goal Friday night, but it didn’t stop them – and the thousands of other attendees – from making the most out of the festival. Campgrounds near the Gorge were packed to the brim with concert-goers, making this year’s festival one of the biggest and best yet. A lineup is yet to be announced for Watershed in 2020, but if 2019 was any indicator, it’s going to be another big one.
Richard Byrd can be reached via email at email@example.com.