By James Smith
Centralia Fireside Guard
The show went on.
Despite weather-related forebodings an estimated 15,000 people crowded onto a 120-acre portion of the Stowers family farm. They were there noon and night, Saturday, October 7 for the conclusion of the 9th annual Luke Bryan Farm Tour, seven miles north of Centralia and everything went fine.
Kara Stowers, whose family hosted the concert, their second Farm Tour concert in two years at the family’s Century Farm, said despite rain concerns, people were lining up to for entry 8 a.m. Saturday.
Rain or sun, Stowers said the concert-goers came prepared.
“This year they had the right clothes, the right boots and the right vehicles for the venue,” she said. “Just like you do when you’re getting your kids ready for school.”
Not only was the crowd prepared, but it was positive, she said. “I don’t think the rain kept anybody down.”
One improvement over last year, Stowers noted was stronger culverts were used for the entrance and exit to the parking area and with both flowing there were far fewer delays.
“The flow was so much better this year, no culvert collapses,” she added. “This time traffic flowed a lot better.”
And, perhaps most important, she said: “God definitely blessed us the right weather.”
Stowers added that weather maps showed them a big storm, scheduled for Friday evening and Friday night, “But it dissipated and went around us. . .. All we got were some showers between 10:30 and 11:30 Saturday morning.”
Almost all the tour’s buses and semi-trailers were able to get in before the morning showers, she said. “Ten or 12 semis still needed to park and set-up,” Stowers added.
There were a few that did not. Her husband Greg pulled a few of them in with one of the farm’s tractors. “After the showers it was a soupy muddy mess.”
But things improved from there, she said. “The showers stopped and the wind blew all afternoon and dried everything up enough that the trucks and everybody was able to leave without any problems. It was much better than we thought it would be.”
The opening acts opened on time, 6 p.m., Stowers said, starting with DJ Rock, followed by Jon Langston, “The Peach Pickers,” and Jon Pardo.
Bryan, she said, started at 9 p.m. and played to almost 11 p.m. “I’m positive he played longer than last year.”
He also played an encore, singing “I Don’t Want This Night to End” and “Country Girl (Shake It for Me),” something said Stowers said Bryan rarely did.
“The Farm tour is so tightly scheduled he can’t afford the time, they always have to start rolling to the next town. But this was the last concert of the tour, there’s something to be said about being the last stop. We got the encore and the others didn’t.”
Speaking of encores, Stowers said she did not know if the country western superstar would be back next year.
“It is really rare for the Farm Tour to play at the same farm two years in a row,” Stowers said. “We were shocked when they came back and asked us to host it again this year.”
She noted that if they were asked to host the tour for a third time, they would definitely say yes.
“He does that tour to help agriculture,” Stowers said. “A portion of what he makes goes to scholarships for Ag. students. Last year, a Mizzou student got one. We know he believes in paying it back, and so do we.”
Audrain County Sheriff Matt Oller noted the near 20-hour day for some public safety officials had just two arrests. The most serious was one involving domestic violence.
According to his Facebook post, an estimated nearly 10,000 people were in attendance including Gov. Eric Greitens.
He publicly thanked sheriffs from area counties, Centralia’s police chief, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Audrain County Emergency Management Director Steve Shaw, cattlemen and pork producers Bill Kessler and Andrew Cauthorn, Missouri Department of Public Safety, Audrain County 9-1-1, among others.