.38 special

Sunday, September 15, 2002

By Mark Bliss ~ Southeast Missourian

The SEMO District Fair wrapped up Saturday to the hard-charging sounds of Southern rock 'n' roll band .38 Special before an enthusiastic crowd at the grandstand.

Concert-goers said they were thrilled to hear something besides country music at the 147th SEMO District Fair at Arena Park.

The fair drew a crowd of approximately 18,200 on its eighth and final day, said fair board member Pete Poe. The concert drew about 2,800 to the grandstand, the largest crowd of any of the fair concerts.

In all, the fair drew over 91,500 people over the eight days, up slightly from a year ago when the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were blamed for a drop in attendance.

This year, Poe said the heat was a factor, particularly Sept. 8. "We are going to blame it on the heat," he said.

Kevin and Kim Buckley of Desloge, Mo., made the hour- and-a-half drive to see their favorite band.

"I've seen them probably 30 or 40 times," said Kevin Buckley, who teaches welding at a vocational school.

He said his interest has been longterm.

"I've been a fan for 25 years," he explained, dressed in a .38 Special "Armed and Dangerous Tour" T-shirt, as he waited for the concert to begin.

"They are probably one of the best live bands," he said.

Mike Mirly of Chaffee, Mo., brought his family to the concert. They had front-row seats.

"It's good, down-to-earth rock 'n' roll," said Mirly, who is in his mid-40s.

The crowd was still filing in when .38 Special kicked off the concert. The band, with its lead singer Don Barnes and rock 'n' roll showman Donnie VanZant, entertained the crowd with a number of tunes ranging from "Fantasy Girl" to the Southern music anthem, "Rebel to Rebel."

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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