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Country music, barbecue draw 7,500 to fairgrounds

  • Thousands of fans filled the Sonoma County Fairgrounds on Saturday for the Sonoma Country Music BBQ featuring Dierks Bentley.

About 7,500 country fans kicked up their heels at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds on Sunday, celebrating Santa Rosa's first "country music barbecue" with a lineup of top acts.

John Dayton and his family were there from Geyserville, cheering for local favorite Pete Stringfellow. The Piner High School graduate and rising country star is his wife's cousin, Dayton said.

"He has some great songs," Dayton said. "He can play on any instrument."

2011 Sonoma Country Music BBQ

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Dierks Bentley, Luke Bryan, Thompson Square and McKenna Faith also performed.

Sunday's outdoor concert was the first country music event from producers of Sonoma County's counterculture Harmony Festival, who said they're trying new kinds of entertainment. The turnout showed there's a market.

"This could catch on," said Dayton. "A lot of folks are really into it."

Harmony Festival Presents was happy with its first foray into country music, said spokeswoman Adrienne Biggs.

"Harmony is about branching out and welcoming people," she said. "We were so happy to reach so many."

Fans crowded the stage for Bentley, a Country Music Association award winner who's had 14 hits on the country singles charts.

Bentley's "Am I The Only One?" was No. 4 on Billboard's country chart in recent weeks, while Bryan's "Country Girl (Shake It For Me)" was No. 7.


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