Rockin' The Rims inaugural music festival 'a major success'

2014-08-17T07:08:00Z 2014-08-19T14:04:10Z Rockin' The Rims inaugural music festival 'a major success'By NICK BALATSOS The Billings Gazette

Rockin' The Rims on the Yellowstone kicked off its inaugural music festival Saturday at Coulson Park, selling about 1,000 tickets.

Country music musician John Anderson, who's perhaps best known for his song "Straight Tequila Night," headlined the event, playing into the night with the iconic Sacrifice Cliff as the backdrop.

Nine other bands or musicians also played Saturday, including Stoney LaRue, who plays the popular song "Oklahoma Breakdown," JB and the Moonshine Band as well as Montana's own Sean DeVine.

Chas Spoonheim, 23, of Billings, said he follows Stony LaRue on various social media platforms. He said he told himself if the band came anywhere near Billings he was going — no matter what.

Spoonheim was ecstatic when he found out they were coming.

"A guy I listen to all the time on my iPod is coming to Billings? Heck yeah!"

Spoonheim arrived for the event at noon and had no intentions to leave early.

There were about 25 vendors at the event.

Speaking before Stoney LaRue played, one of the vendors, Jason Radtke, 39, co-owner of Legendary Tattoo Studio, said they were expecting more people, but said he had noticed about 35 more people trickling in each hour.

Still, with his mobile workshop, a bus that has been converted and painted army green for tattoo purposes, Radtke managed to give two tattoos before 5 p.m. One featured a dream catcher; the other, a horse and eagle feathers, he said.

Early in the day, as bands performed, couples danced while others soaked in the sunshine, music and bouts of rain while lounging in lawn chairs and sipping beer.

Kyle Benton, a public relations director at MACK Productions, which organized the festival, called it a "major success," especially considering it's the event's first year.

Benton, formerly of KULR-8, said even though they will probably lose money this year, that's just the name of the game. Though he couldn't give names because of ongoing contract negotiations, he said they have some "massive bands" planned for next year.

He said they strategically planned the event to coincide with the MontanaFair because "all these people are going to be here anyways."

And Benton said they chose Coulson Park not only because of it's "beautiful" location along the Yellowstone River, but to raise awareness of the park that he sees as underutilized.

Contributing to that, Benton said, is the park's reputation.

"This is the place where all the bad things happen," he said. "But look at this place, it's beautiful."

"Our plan is to bring awareness to the park in a positive light."

Benton said they teamed up with the Billings Park and Recreation to do that.

He said Billings Park and Recreation seeded grass and planted more than a dozen trees for the event.

And for every ticket sold, MACK Productions is donating $1.50 to Billings Park and Recreation, who in exchange, is setting up a summer camp scholarship for disadvantaged students of SD2.

"We want to thank the Billings community for getting behind this," Benton said. "We want to thank the Billings businesses willing to take a chance."

Next year, Benton said they are hoping to turn the event into a multi day event that features not only music but kayak lessons and a day devoted to celebrating Native American culture.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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