(La Porte, IN) - On Friday night a quiet pasture on La Porte County Road 500 West known as The Summit came alive with the sounds of country music and small town revelry.
The sixth annual Red Wine & Brew concert was a huge success, despite a heavy afternoon rainfall. Event organizer Carey Garwood said the estimated crowd of 5,000 may have trickled in a little later than expected due to the weather, but by 4:00 p.m. the VIP beer and wine tasting area was full of people. And unlike last year, the weather cleared enough for hot air balloon rides.
Headlining the musical portion of the event was the Roots and Boots Tour, featuring country stars Aaron Tippin, Sammy Kershaw, and Collin Raye. Tippin, Kershaw, and Raye share nearly 70 Top 40 singles between them. Friday’s concert featured a good sampling. The three took turns with brief solo sets and teamed up on stage for several other songs.
The trio also rolled out a few cover tunes. With a strong nine-piece backing band, some rollicking Lynard Skynard was to be expected, but a countrified version of Billy Joel’s “You May Be Right” was a fun surprise.
Perhaps the highlight of the night were boot-stomping performances of Aaron Tippin’s “Kiss This” and “Where the Stars & Stripes & the Eagle Fly.” Tippin, who is known for his physical fitness, seemed plenty spry for a 63-year-old.
The cause behind the show, of course, was a benefit for local first responders. With dozens of them in attendance, The Summit may have been the safest place in Indiana Friday night. La Porte County Sheriff John Boyd said that’s mostly a testament to the positive attitude of the people who attend. “It’s just a well-behaved crowd,” he said. “This type of event just attracts people that want to have a good time, they want to be responsible, and they want to support emergency services.”
Boyd said the importance of events like Red Wine & Brew is twofold: raising money and morale. “It really is nice that some of the proceeds go to support programs that we have, such as our K9 program and our marine patrol unit,” he said. “But I’ve got to tell you, from a morale standpoint, there’s nothing better than seeing this many people coming out here because they realize how important emergency services are to them.”
La Porte City Police Chief Paul Brettin, at the event with about a dozen of his own officers, was practically speechless at the outpouring of support for law enforcement. “It’s tremendous,” he said. “You look at everything else that’s going on in the world, and we have such strong support here in La Porte County. It’s great to see. It’s beyond words to describe it.”