Gill Concert Called Success
Benefits The First Tee of the Sandhills
Despite lower attendance, organizers and beneficiaries of the Vince Gill concert Saturday night are calling the event a success.
The concert, which benefits The First Tee of the Sandhills, drew an estimated 4,000 fans, about 1,500 fewer than last year’s concert, organizers said.
“We were very happy with the show,” said Dick Pitassy, one of the event organizers. “I thought in terms of performance, the show was even better this year. Anybody who wasn’t there missed a great show.”
Tuesday, organizers didn’t have a final count for the amount of money raised, Pitassy said.
The First Tee of the Sandhills is a nonprofit organization devoted to helping children ages 5 to 18 gain life skills and educational opportunities through golf.
Bill Baker, executive director of First Tee of the Sandhills, said the concert is a key event to help raise funds and boost awareness of the program and its mission.
“We want to be relevant in this community with the different children’s services agencies in the area,” Baker said. “This concert helps us do that.”
First Tee of the Sandhills currently has 363 children involved in the program. Baker said those numbers are likely to increase this year. He said it costs about $18,000 per year to just get the kids out on the courses.
The Vince Gill concert is one of several events that raise awareness and money for The First Tee of the Sandhills.
Last year’s concert generated about $26,000 for the First Tee program, Baker said.
Organizers hope that merchandise sales and a guitar raffle will help to offset the lower attendance and the added cost of providing a Jumbotron television for better viewing during the concert.
Baker said raising awareness of the program was one of the big benefits of this year’s concert.
“This year we really stepped it up a notch about getting the message out there of what the First Tee program is all about,” Baker said. “As far as the money (raised) goes, we did spend more so that’ll all have to pan out.”
Pitassy said the number of reserved seats sold for the concert this year was comparable to last, but that the decrease in attendance was primarily in general admission ticket sales.
Conflicting events such as Mother’s Day weekend, several college graduations, Carthage Buggy Festival, the Kentucky Derby and a NASCAR race in Darlington, S.C., may have contributed to the drop in attendance, Pitassy said.
“There were a number of events we were competing with this year,” he said. “There may have also been a certain amount of people who saw Vince Gill last year and decided not to go this year.”
On Saturday night, Gill and his band took to the stage at the Village Arboretum and performed for two hours.
Gill not only entertained the crowd with his music, but also shared personal introductions to the songs and the stories behind them, giving the concert-goers an intimate look into his love of the craft of music making.
He has now performed back-to-back benefit concerts in Pinehurst for The First Tee of the Sandhills.
Donna Lemonds, of Robbins, won the raffle for a Fender guitar autographed and then played by Gill.
“I can’t believe it,” Lemonds said as she clutched the Fender Telecaster close to herself. “I’m a big Vince Gill fan. I was here last year. Can you believe it? I have this guitar.”
For those who missed the concert, T-shirts and hats are still on sale through the website www.vincegillpinehurst.com or at Robert’s Golf Shop in Aberdeen.
Organizers say they hope to continue the concert tradition in the future.
“We certainly want to do more concerts there,” Pitassy said. “It (Village Arboretum) has a lot going for it. The parking is good and relatively close, and the venue can easily hold more than 6,000 people.”
He said discussions about which artists to consider for future concerts will be held in the coming months.
“Vince is an ideal candidate because of his strong connection to First Tee,” Pitassy said. “We’ll definitely have him back. The question is, will we bring someone else in first and give Vince a rest before bringing him back?”
Staff writer John Chappell contributed to this story.
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