The first annual Country Fest on Oct. 8 and 9 at the is set to become a Columbus Day weekend tradition.
About 5,000 people of all ages came out to enjoy the beautiful, unseasonably warm weather.
The showcase featured performances from some of the tri-state area's preeminent country acts. Pony rides and a petting zoo courtesy of L.I. Pony Parties, face painting by Tack and Go Farms, pumpkin decorating and more kept children smiling and entertained for hours.
"It was gorgeous. It turned out really well. The bands were great, and the food is even better," said the event's project manager Cathy Clary of Ridge. She and her boyfriend, Billy Q, came up with the idea for the festival. "We do New York car shows and boat shows, all the logistics. We thought it would be nice to do something that was a fall kickoff thing."
The hearty fare consisted of crab cakes, lobster rolls, chicken strips, clam strips, popcorn, cotton candy, caramel and candy apples, funnel cakes, smoothies and much more.
"It's all real food stuck in a crock pot, real pulled pork, caveman turkey legs and roasted corn," Clary said.
On Saturday, acts featured included: Roadhouse Band, one of Long Island's favorite country bands for more than 15 years; singer-songwriter Jillian Rae; country and rock band SixGun; and Trailer Radio, who delivered a mix of country, rock and blues.
Sunday's lineup included: Randell Beck with Quickdraw, a blend of country and Americana; duo Jac & Jill; Astrograss and Brooklyn's own "hipster hillbillies" the Defibulators closed out the weekend with their modern spin on rockabilly, honky-tonk and bluegrass.
"I always liked bluegrass and country music. I like to dance to it. I like the songs and the words to the songs, especially the upbeat ones. Everyone just seems like they're having a good time. It's very down to earth," said festival-goer, Long Beach resident Christine Germano. "I like to go 'yee-haw,' and I like the guys in cowboy hats and cowboy boots."
Billy Q summed up the singular appeal of country, which is gaining traction as one of the most popular musical genres on Long Island for young and old alike.
"It's family-oriented. It's real musicians playing real instruments," he said. "In the country music scene people go out with their family as opposed to rock concerts. The music is all family-friendly ... The neighborhood has been very receptive. You can't find a more beautiful venue. We've been very fortunate."