Massive crowd turns out for Tritt, Ray, Scott and Runaway June at Galva Park District

Back Road Musical Festival co-founders Nik Grafelman and Tyler Glaser didn’t have an exact count on ticket sales for Saturday’s fourth annual music gathering at the Galva Park District.

That number isn’t a big deal for the duo — the result of the event is what matters.

“Tyler and I don’t really check too much on the number of tickets sold,” Grafelman said. “We’re more interested in the outcome.”

Using that as the measuring stick, Saturday’s festival — headlined by Travis Tritt — goes in the books as a rousing success blessed by near-perfect weather. Last year’s festival drew nearly 5,000 fans, and Glaser and Grafelman were anticipating in the 5,000 to 7,000 range this year.

“Honestly, I couldn’t tell you if we had our best year yet,” Grafelman said, “but it felt better than it ever did.”

Country music legend Tritt capped seven hours of entertainment that also featured Runaway June, Dylan Scott and Michael Ray on the main stage, and Tasji Bachman, Staggard and the Joe Stamm Band on the side stage.

“There was something for everybody,” Grafelman said of the musical lineup.

Runaway June marked the first female act and first group to perform at the event, Scott and Ray followed with energetic sets that appealed to the younger fans, and Tritt finished off the festival by knocking out hit after hit to the delight of veteran country music fans.

“We have kind of figured out that when it comes to the show’s lineup, we want something for all ages,” Grafelman said.

Music fans weren’t the only winners Saturday.

A pair of charities — the Shave for the Brave and the Henry-Stark Relay For Life — enjoyed great days.

Shave for the Brave raised more than $5,000, which allows the organization to send 10 veterans to visit the war memorials in Washington D.C. as part of the Honor Flight of the Quad Cities.

In raffling off a guitar signed by all four main stage acts, Relay For Life raised $4,000. The holder of the winning ticket was Isabelle Hicks of Kewanee.

“We’re just thankful so many people come out and support these charities,” Grafelman said. “In the years to come we certainly hope we can help some more charities.”

Prior to Runaway June taking the stage, the reuniting of a grandfather and grandson started the festival off on the right note. Army veteran Lowell Thuline of Galva was surprised by his grandson, Matt Horack, who recently returned from being deployed overseas.

Grafelman and Glaser were both quick to point out the tireless efforts received from volunteers.

“Our volunteers show up all week long,” Grafelman said. “It’s the fourth year they’ve been doing it, and we had the grounds set up pretty quickly.”

After a few weeks away from the festival — Grafelman said a fishing trip is in order for the co-founders to unwind  — the planning for the 2018 event commences.

“It’s hard to believe this coming year is our fifth year,” Grafelman said. 

“Not in our wildest dreams,” Grafelman said when asked if he envisioned the Back Road Music Festival growing by leaps and bounds each year. “Honestly, we were a little naive. Then each year you learn a little bit and that’s how you figure out to make it better each year, hopefully.”