Fans enjoying Clay Walker at the Hometown Healing Charity Concert.
Concert goers spread down the sidewalk of the Williston ARC as they purchased tickets and filed into the facility on Saturday night. The basketball courts had been transformed into an auditorium complete with suspended video walls and a stage for CHI Williston Foundation’s first ever Hometown Healing Charity Concert, proudly bringing country singer Clay Walker to town.
Lines for the beer trailers formed and didn’t let up throughout the night as tickets were traded for frothy cups of kegged beer. The lawn north of the ARC was strewn with food trucks, picnic tables and satisfied customers. The lights went out at 7 p.m. as local nonprofit group Harmonic played the opening hymn. Soon after, opening act The Ben Haggard Band stepped on stage to play originals as well as some of their dad, Merle Haggard’s, music.
As the stage hands shifted equipment around, the night’s MC, Jazz Iredia, raffled off two guitars signed by Clay Walker. A joyous moment of the evening happened when a woman, wearing a t-shirt of a picture of Clay Walker and herself when she was 16-years-old, was brought on stage and surprised as she turned around to find a man on his knee, a ring box opened and a marriage proposal. The crowd cheered.
The lights went out, yet again, and a quiet filled the room until the entourage of Clay Walker and his band finally took the stage with an eruption of anticipated excitement. When Walker paused his singing of his well-known song “If I Could Make a Living” to allow the audience to finish the chorus, he said, “Looks like we’ve come to the right place!”
Walker’s set consisted of his classic country originals “Live Until I Die,” “Then What,” “She Won’t Be Lonely Long,” and “‘Fore She Was Mama,” which got a big response from fans. The band played a tribute to the late Jimmy Buffet by singing his song “A Pirate Looks at Forty.” When the intro to George Strait’s “Amarillo By Morning” began, quiet smiles showed on faces throughout the crowd and partners joined hand-in-hand to dance in the nostalgia that only good, old music can provide.
This Hometown Healing Charity Concert hit its mark of serving the community. Older generations took in the music from the bleachers while school aged girls laughed with their friends and young boys took their moms on the dance floor for a spin. Couples swayed as the band played and country fans held up their cups while singing the lyrics. It was truly an event for everyone.
“It was so humbling to see so many people coming out to celebrate with and support us. The production team, Drive North, went above and beyond, working over 40 hours to set up and tear down, and brought in trucks and teams from California to make sure Williston got the best possible event,” said Foundation President Brittny Mayo. “Being able to present custom made hats by Kicking Ass Hat Company to the Haggard brothers and Clay Walker with Marketing Specialist Marcia Benway and CHI President Garrick Hyde, and thank them personally for coming out, was an amazing experience and a memory I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”
Tickets sold out at this first-of-its-kind concert and all money raised through ticket sales, sponsorships and the raffle will be kept in the Williston community and go toward improvements to CHI St. Alexius Health Williston’s facility.