The Internet wasn't going to keep Laken Semones of Frankfort from Red, White and Boom this year. When the website selling tickets to the annual country music festival kept crashing, her father hopped in his car and drove to Lexington to buy tickets in person.
Now, perched on the front corner barrier at the stage, with the music just about to start, her journey was complete.
Semones was one of 15,000 fans who packed Whitaker Bank Ballpark for the 10th annual Red, White and Boom. It is the first-ever two-day edition of the event, with music on Saturday and Sunday. Nine acts were slated to play each day, starting at 5 p.m. But the day started much earlier for the front-row dwellers.
"We left at 5 a.m. from Barbourville," said Rhonda Golden of Fort Wayne, Ind., holding her front-row space with Savanna Chandler, 28, of Barbourville. "We were here at 7:15 and just ran for it when they opened the gates."
It was a scene similar to the first Saturday in May, when infield dwellers make a mad dash for spots on the fence at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby in Louisville.
"They did the running, I did the raising," Ken Hill, 38, said, referring to his daughter Makenzi Hill and her friend Alexa Waits, both 15.
Fans were going to all the trouble to see a lineup that included Lee Brice, whose big hit, I Drive Your Truck, was about the father of a fallen soldier; Jerrod Niemann; Cole Swindell; and Pretty Little Liars star Lucy Hale. Sunday's slate is topped by Thomas Rhett; ladies' favorite Dustin Lynch; Eric Paslay; and Lexington's own Sundy Best. The lineup was attractive enough that, despite some website problems, the event sold out in five hours.
The quick sell-out left many fans out of luck, said Michael Jordan, director of operations for Clear Channel Media and Entertainment in Central Kentucky, which presents the festival. But latching onto the enthusiasm of this weekend's event, organizers announced the dates and ticket information for next year's Red, White and Boom at Saturday's show.
The event will be June 26-27 at Whitaker Bank Ballpark. Tickets will go on sale for the 2015 Boom at 10 a.m. Friday, July 11.
Fans of the decade-old country music fest will note the move away from the Fourth of July weekend. Red, White and Boom started as a Fourth of July event in downtown Lexington before it moved to the ballpark.
"Red, White and Boom is part of Lexington's Fourth of July festival," Jordan said. "Next year, July 4 falls on a Saturday, so not wanting to compete against the other great events the city is hosting, we will move to the weekend before the holiday. Red, White and Boom 2015 becomes the kickoff to the weeklong celebration.
"For the fans, it also puts the event on a Friday and Saturday versus Saturday and Sunday, which we think the fans will appreciate."
Fans generally appreciated Saturday's near-perfect weather, though Hannah Willoughby of Mount Sterling said she enjoyed some of the muddy fun at last year's rainy Boom.
"Rain always makes it great," she said.
While this year's event fell after the Fourth, stars and stripes were still a dominant clothing pattern. Lee Bishop of Brooksville was in a head-to-toe ensemble of a Spandex-like material, while friends Jeff Sparks and Kristian Conway sported matching Bass Pro Shop shirts. Sparks added a headband, shorts and stars-and-stripes socks (from American Eagle, of course).
"We've been wearing it to World Cup games, and people love it," Sparks said.
Some simply chose to display the colors, like Daniel Sexton of Harrodsburg, who ran through the crowd with Old Glory on a pole to big cheers until police took the flag, saying it would be a hazard.
"We love America, and we love country music," said his friend Katlyn Bottom, 21. "This is a great way to celebrate the Fourth of July."