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Wavestock a success? Maybe, say organizers

Monday, June 7, 2004

WAVELAND, Ind. (AP) -- Organizers of an open-air concert featuring Kenny Rogers and other country music performers said they fell far short of their goal of attracting 20,000 fans and raising some $600,000 for the town's empty coffers.

Organizer Brenda Jones said Saturday during the concert that probably 5,000 to 6,000 people came by the carload to see the show. But they won't know until they count the receipts whether they raised any money for their town.

Community leaders said they are unsure what Waveland's future will hold should the concert fail to generate a profit.

Rick Lindsey, the Carmel-based promoter who helped organize the show, estimated the concert would have to draw between 5,000 to 7,500 people to compensate for its cost, which organizers said was about $150,000.

Still, Jones said the atmosphere was friendly and the crowd seemed to enjoy the performers. Ricky Van Shelton led off the show, followed by Sara Evans, then the headliner, Rogers.

"This day is going to make or break Waveland," Lorraine Harbison, a 47-year-old Waveland nurse told The Indianapolis Star.

Organizers gambled that 20,000 people would pay $30 to $40 apiece to attend the show at a campground.

Small towns like Waveland are dying nationwide, their lifeblood draining as people flee them for the cities and suburbs. Seventy-two percent of Americans lived in rural areas in 1910, but now only about 20 percent do, the 2000 census reported. Barely one of every 100 people lives in places of 1,000 people or fewer.

Despite the smaller-than-expected crowd, business owners along Waveland's main street were reporting the briskest business in years.



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