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Hunter Hayes wows sold-out fair crowd

  • Singer/songwriter Hunter Hayes performs Tuesday at Chris Beck Arena during the Sonoma County Fair in Santa Rosa. (Alvin Jornada / For The Press Democrat)

Andrea Walsh spent all of one spring night in a sleeping bag on the cold ground in front of the Sonoma County Fairgrounds box office for this moment.

“It means the world,” the 18-year-old Petaluman said moments before country music phenom Hunter Hayes took the stage Tuesday night at the Chris Beck Arena to the screams of nearly 5,000 adoring fans.

“We wanted to be front row,” she said, with her twin sister, Stephanie, at her side. “We are pretty dead center, seats 11 and 12.”

Hunter Hayes In Concert

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The Walsh twins, like many other in the arena, were most anxious to hear Hayes's newest hit, “I Want Crazy.”

Hayes, 21, took the stage at 7:40 p.m., jamming out hits from his 2013 release, “Encore,” eliciting screams at his every utterance.

“Hey, if you know any of the words, why don't you just sing it with me all right?” he said before launching into “Storm Warning.”

Hayes, who sold out the 4,683-seat arena, precedes the sold-out show of Florida Georgia Line, the duo who will take the stage tonight on the strength of former No. 1 hit “Cruise.”

Temperatures that dropped sharply as the evening wore on did nothing to quell the enthusiasm of the largely female crowd.

“I'm in love with Hunter Hayes,” said Madeline Howard, 15, of Santa Rosa. “He has a really good voice.”

Cameron Catanese came down from Weaverville with her mom, Julie, to see Hayes. It was her first concert.

“I love him,” she said, after posing in front of the still empty stage prior to the show start. “It's his voice, his lyrics.”

“She has been bugging me to go to a concert. She came up with this, so I said, 'Let's do it,'” Julie Catanese said.

Chas Christianson of Santa Rosa said he's a Hayes fan because the Louisiana native writes his own lyrics and music and also plays many of the instruments on his albums.

“I like that,” the 16-year-old said. “He doesn't just play guitar; he doesn't just play piano.”

“I just like country in general and then I heard 'Crazy' and it's catchy,” he said.

Staff Writer Kerry Benefield writes an education blog at extracredit.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. She can be reached at 526-8671, kerry.benefield@pressdemocrat.com or on Twitter @benefield.

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