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Country music stars Kellie Pickler, Scotty McCreery, Thomas Rhett, Cole Swindell, and Locash Cowboys take the stage to cheers and flashblubs of the crowd for the Concert for Kids benefiting St. Jude Children's Research Hopsital at the Cadilliac Ranch in Southington, Tuesday night, Feb. 25, 2014. The concert, sponsored by Country 92.5, draws several hundred out each year to support the cause and enjoy a concert with country music stars in the intimate venue. | Christopher Zajac / Record-Journal
Courtney Clavette, left, and Kaycee Belanger, both seniors at Southington High School, enjoy the Concert for Kids sponsored by Country 92.5 which benefits St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital at Cadilliac Ranch in Southington, Tuesday night, Feb. 25, 2014. | (Christopher Zajac / Special to Town Times)

Country music and ‘eye candy’ draw big crowd in Southington


SOUTHINGTON — Hundreds of country music fans stood outside Cadillac Ranch Tuesday night in a line that snaked along the building and into the parking lot.

Some fans, like Kaysea McLay, Dawn Browne, and Paulette McLay, had been waiting since 6:30 a.m. to get the best seats in the house to see up close the sold-out concert featuring Kellie Pickler, Thomas Rhett, LoCash Cowboys, Cole Swindell, Scotty McCreery, and Courtney Drummey.

“I just love the concert,” said Kaysea McLay who was there with her aunt and grandmother. “Every year we come.”

The country artists were there to entertain, of course, but also to support St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. All of the proceeds benefit Country Cares for St. Jude’s Kids. Since 1989 Country Cares for St. Jude Kids Program has raised more than $500 million.

Browne has been attending the concert each year since 2005. When asked who she was excited to see this year, Browne smiled.

“Cole Swindell. He’s eye candy, I’m sorry,” Browne said, laughing.

“And he can sing!” chimed in Kaysea McLay.

Fans slowly made their way inside the bar and through the line-dancing area to try to grab seats. Those who didn’t get a seat stood during the performances.

Courtney Clavette and Kaycee Belanger, both seniors at Southington High School, had seats in the front row. They were excited to be able to meet the country artists after the show.

“I’m excited to meet Kellie Pickler and Scotty McCreery,” Belanger said. “We go to country concerts all the time.”

Country Drummey was the first to take the stage. Drummey is from Connecticut.

“I can’t tell you how exciting this is to be on this stage,” she said.

Sitting on a chair, Drummey swayed back and forth as she said the song “More Than Tonight.” After she performed someone from the crowd handed her a bouquet of flowers.

“Thank you so much!” Drummey said.

When Drummey was finished, the other artists took the stage and sat in a row next to one another.

Preston Brust from the LoCash Cowboys got the crowd going with the song “I love this life.”

The crowd screamed and cheered for the group. During the performances many people snapped photos of the artists and took videos.

“Ya’ll out there in 10 degree weather drinking Milwaukee’s Best and it was awesome,” said Thomas Rhett before he performed his hit song “Make Me Wanna.”

“We’re excited it’s warmer in here than it is out there,” laughed Kellie Pickler, who was a contestant on the fifth season of the TV show “American Idol.”

She performed her hit song from four years ago called “Best Days of Your Life.” The crowd sang along to the entire song.

The artists went down the line taking turns to sing and the next to perform was Scotty McCreery who won the 10th season of American Idol. He performed his song “Buzzin.”

Last in line was Cole Swindell.

“We’re going to start it off with a party song,” said Swindell who sang his song “Brought to You By Beer.”

During the concert Pickler noticed there were some shots of liquor available on stage.

“Those shots look lonely,” she said to Brust.

The two drank the shots and the crowd cheered and raised their glasses and they continued to play. (203) 317-2212 Twitter: @FollowingFarrah

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