It was an electric evening on Centennial Field in Grand Falls-Windsor on Saturday, with all the flashy outfits, glitzy scarves and jeweled microphones only Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler can offer. And if the reaction of the crowd was any indication — the concert was an outstanding success.
Sunny, blue skies were the backdrop for the 2012 Freshwater Suzuki Salmon Festival mega concert, attracting tens of thousands of concertgoers. Hundreds of other fans lined streets and hillsides around the field.
Aerosmith didn’t disappoint, keeping crowds singing along to some of their most famous hits; “Love in an Elevator,” “Train Kept a Rollin’,” “Sweet Emotion,” “Walk This Way,” “Dream On,” and many others.
The buildup to the grand finale didn’t disappoint, either.
Fans of all ages turned the field into a massive dance floor for pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen and Uncle Kracker, and cheered for an energetic Flo Rida, who entered the crowd during his performance, climbing the fence of the beer garden.
Cheap Trick, who is touring with Aerosmith, showcased a colourful selection of guitars and outfits, and sang favourites including “I Want You to Want Me.”
Grand Falls-Windsor Mayor Al Hawkins admitted, “it has been a long process,” but once everything came together for the concert, he was thrilled.
“You’ve got to feel the excitement.”
Among the crowds, he noted, were first-time tourists to the town.
“We’ve got people from Nova Scotia, and we’ve got people from Indiana, who travelled all the way to Grand Falls-Windsor for this concert today,” he said.
“We’re really, really pleased with the turnout. It’s absolutely phenomenal. The buzz around town, the number of people that are actually visiting Grand Falls-Windsor, you know I’m very, very excited. This is really a great day for us.”
Prior to hitting the stage, Hawkins met with Tyler of Aerosmith to present him with the key to the city and a certificate, “in recognition of all the years of music and its contributions,” Hawkins said when handing over the key.
“I’m very honoured about this,” Tyler said.
He remarked on the scenery of Grand Falls-Windsor, the birch trees, and said he is a “country boy.”
He tipped his hat to our folk music scene before saying he was ready to “rock (our) world … then go home and sleep in my bed!” he exclaimed.
Tyler schmoozed with invited guest including Premier Kathy Dunderdale and Health Minister Susan Sullivan, joking with them personally, and offering kisses on their cheeks for photos.
It was an exciting moment for Hawkins, he said, to see the town attract bands such as Aerosmith. He chalked it up to a great agreement with SRO Entertainment.
“We struggled for the last number of years with regards to trying to get the entertainment, and we know today … in today’s market, if you want to have a really large artist such as Aerosmith, it’s going to … cost a lot,” he said. “We weren’t really in the position to risk the taxpayer’s money for the cost of the show. So we entered into this agreement with SRO … which really makes it a good business sense for us.”
What’s good for the town, is good for everyone, too, he said. It’s estimated over the five days of the event about $8 million was pumped into the local economy.
When asked what the 2013 Salmon Festival mega concert might bring, the mayor joked, “You’ve got 365 days to wait.”
But he hinted that the headliner could be another crowd-pleaser.
“We are working on a big, big, big band for next year … huge, huge band for next year, so we will see.
“There are a number of tours that are going to happen next year, so, who knows.”