Big crowd: Derek Welsh & The Cold Hard Truth opened the show at noon on Saturday, July 22, to a crowd of more than 22,000. | Kenneth Boone

Archived Story

Party on the lake

Published 3:34pm Monday, July 25, 2011

The lake saw its biggest party of the year Saturday as thousands flocked by boat and land to attend Sea Ray’s AquaPalooza event on Lake Martin.

Event organizers estimated that between 22,000 and 25,000 people attended the event, with roughly 2,500 boats crowded into Kowaliga Bay between Kowaliga Marina and Sinclair’s to see the unique waterfront show.

“Can we throw a party or what?” Dave Commander, president of Russell Marine, said on stage just before introducing headliner Sawyer Brown.

It had been two years since Lake Martin hosted SeaRay’s signature AquaPalooza event with county music legend Alan Jackson, but just like last year, when headliner John Anderson attracted a crowd of around 20,000, the show’s organizers were thrilled with how many showed up to the show.

“Standing on the stage, you really can’t see the last boat out there,” said Robert Gunn, director of events and social media with Russell Lands.

Derek Welsh & The Cold Hard Truth got the show started at noon Saturday, July 23, followed by a performance from the up and coming Chase Rice.

Rhett Akins took the stage next, performing big-time hits such as “That Ain’t My Truck,” “She Said Yes” and “Don’t Get Me Started.”

“This is a real country song,” he said before singing ‘That Ain’t My Truck.’ “A guy and a girl and pick-up truck. That’s the only ingredients you need.”

Akins also performed a number of hits he’s written over the years, such as Brooks and Dunn’s “Put a Girl In It,” Blake Shelton’s “Honeybee,” Rodney Atkins’ “Farmer’s Daughter” and Joe Nichols’ “Gimmie that Girl.”

“We had a really good time out here on the lake,” Akins said.

The Sawyer Brown band had to cut their set a bit short due to bad weather, but not before they cranked out plenty of the songs they’re known and loved for, such as “Some Girls Do,” “Step That Step” and “The Race Is On.”

Gunn said he would like to thank everyone who came out to the show, as well as everyone who worked together to help make it a success.

“My favorite part is that everybody that has become a part of AquaPalooza gets excited about the event,” he said. “They pitch in, everybody helps. It’s just a great community event and it’s an awful lot of work for a lot of us but most of us, at the end of the day, aren’t grumpy. We still think it’s good.”

And, Gunn added, they’ve already started planning for next year’s event.

“We’ve already had several mentions of other bands from these bands that we might look at,” he said. “Do we stick with country or do we go rock and change the genre of music? I don’t know. Country has worked well for us.”