Whether it was Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September,” Otis Day and the Knights’ “Shama Lama Ding Dong,” or “Ocean Boulevard,” the Band of Oz brought the summer spirit to the delight of the crowd at the 40th annual Beach Music Festival in Stuart.
The band, which started in 1967 in Grifton, N.C., as a part-time band playing fraternity parties and high school proms, has grown to perform at the major beach music concert venues in the Southeast.
The now eight-piece group features a full horn section and “continues to get the very best reviews from the top people in the entertainment business.”
Stuart Rotary Club member and former organization president Harold Edwards said everyone had a good time listening to the Band of OZ and the other groups perform.
“We’ve been blessed with wonderful weather and good attendance,” he said.
Edwards estimated that between 1,500 and 2,000 people attended the three-day festival and said that around 80 campers parked onsite for the entire weekend.
“Not only do they come for the beach music, but they have an opportunity to visit other establishments in the community, and hopefully we’ll excite some people about coming to Patrick County,” he said, adding that the Patrick County Magazine and festival brochure were distributed to those in attendance.
Edwards said proceeds from the event will support several of the Rotary Club of Stuart’s projects, including college scholarships for graduating seniors, the week-end backpack program to provide food for underserved children in Patrick County schools, and the establishment of a walking trail.
Tim Wiggins, of Elm City, N.C., was among those attending the fest. He said he enjoyed the bands and the fact that he could listen in the cool shade.
“It’s an older crowd, and the older folks here are a little bit more behaved than some of the younger people at other beach music events,” he said.
While he was there only for the last day, Wiggins said he would like to come back next year.
Festival regular Kathy Boitnott, of Martinsville, said she’s only missed about three festivals out of the 40 held, and was most excited to see the Band of Oz perform.
“We stay all day, probably until about 8 p.m.,” she said.
Boitnott said she and others rented a bus to transport them to the festival.
“You get to see a whole lot of people that you haven’t seen all year, and it’s really fun. We just love it,” she said.
Wanda Horner, of Burlington, N.C. said she’s been a regular at the fest for 12 to 15 years, and this year, as in years past, she brought several friends with her. “I have brought about four or five people every time,” she said.
Horner said she likes the festival because she gets to meet a lot of nice people.
“You can go to a lot of them and have a good time, but you don’t meet nice people like you do here in Stuart, Virginia is the bomb. I like it,” she said.
She also enjoys the festival because of the variety of entertainment.
“You’ve got different bands, and you just go away having a good time, knowing you had fun,” she said.
Festival newcomer Jennifer Moore, of Apex, N.C., said her and her husband decided to stay in their camper for the entirety of the festival.
“My husband was looking for places to go, so” we decided to come here, she said. While she enjoyed Band of Oz, Moore said she was most excited for the performance by Jim Quick & Coastline.