Solvang Theaterfest recently celebrated its 45th anniversary with a major fundraising concert featuring country music superstar and American Idol winner Scotty McCreery. According to the venue's executive director, Mary Ann Norbom, McCreery fans packed the house, helping to make the April 27 event a great success.
Norbom said Board Chairman Chris Nielsen kicked off the night by addressing the sell-out crowd with a thank you for attending in recognition of the Solvang Theaterfest's 45th anniversary.
The nonprofit corporation owns and operates Solvang Festival Theater, which opened in 1974 after just 58 days of construction and has since served as the cultural centerpiece of the Santa Ynez Valley.
There to celebrate the auspicious occasion was 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann, who Norbom said presented Nielsen with a certificate of recognition "Honoring Solvang Festival Theater for Forty-Five Years of Serving the Santa Ynez Valley.”
Without further ado, Musician McCreery and his band took to the stage, exciting a sea of 700 adoring concertgoers. He played many of his biggest hits including “Five More Minutes” and “This Is It.”
Norbom said McCreery reflected on days gone by, sharing emotional moments with the audience about his humble beginnings with American Idol, and meeting his wife, Gabi, who had joined him on the Solvang tour.
One surprising performance, according to Norbom, was McCreery’s version of Ed Sheeran’s megahit, “Shape of You.” After performing it, he joked, “now back to our regular programming,” she said.
In addition to ticket sales, Norbom reports that funds were raised through the sale of donated items by "Chart-Topper Sponsor" Firestone Walker Brewing Company, as well as Au Bon Climat wine and 805 Tri-Tip sandwiches. Other sponsors included El Rancho Market, Montecito Bank & Trust, The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, General Pavement Management (GPM), Visit the Santa Ynez Valley, 19Six Architects and Los Arroyos Mexican Restaurant in Solvang.
With hundreds of fans in the house, many of whom had traveled considerable distances to see McCreery, the audience demanded an encore performance at the end, Norbom said.
"He reached back into his American Idol set list and performed “Your Man,” the song that won him a ticket to Hollywood when he auditioned for the reality show," she added. "It was a memorable night."
Lisa André covers Valley Life for Santa Ynez Valley News.
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