Thousands crowd Oxford Fair to see LeAnn Rimes

Posted Sept. 16, 2012, at 4:16 a.m.
Country singer LeAnn Rimes performs for thousands of fans at the Oxford County Fair on Saturday night.
Russ Dillingham | Sun Journal
Country singer LeAnn Rimes performs for thousands of fans at the Oxford County Fair on Saturday night.
Country singer LeAnn Rimes performs for thousands of fans at the Oxford County Fair on Saturday night.
Russ Dillingham | Sun Journal
Country singer LeAnn Rimes performs for thousands of fans at the Oxford County Fair on Saturday night.

OXFORD, Maine — Temperatures dropping into the 50s Saturday night on the last day of the Oxford Fair didn’t deter thousands of fans of Grammy award-winning country artist LeAnn Rimes.

People of all ages and families with little children came bundled head to toe in jackets and fleece pants, denim and leather jackets, knee-high leather boots, sneakers, dress shoes, cowboy boots, plaid jackets, sweatshirts, sweaters, blankets, and even short pants and T-shirts.

Motor Booty Affair, with its hard-driving funk and disco beats, performed the opening set for about 90 minutes for superstar Rimes.

“I haven’t heard her for a long time, so I want to hear her tonight,” Marilyn Rickett of Portland said, seated in her motorized scooter and flanked by her daughters. “I’ve been listening to her ever since she was a youngster. I’m a country music fan.”

Like her daughter Jessica Rickett of Portland, Marilyn said she likes all of Rimes’s songs.

“I came out here for LeAnn Rimes,” Jessica said. “I don’t have a favorite song; I like all of them of hers.”

The family had arrived by early evening. When the two girls moved up to the white wooden fence around the arena facing the stage, Marilyn rode forward on the scooter over the uneven ground.

Earlier, at 6:20 p.m., a long stream of cars and trucks and minivans waited on Route 26 to drive onto Pottle Road, pay $2 per vehicle for parking, and drive to a spot.

Then they joined hundreds of people in the short walk to the gate, where they paid $5 each to enter. A large crowd had already gathered in front of the stage, many grinding to the beat of “Macho Man” and “YMCA.” Outside the stage area, the small grandstand was already packed.

There were many families with small children dancing in front of and atop the shoulders of moms and dads. One young lady was draped with a child using her denim-covered legs as a jungle gym.

“Next time, I’m getting a baby sitter,” Jessica Haggerty of Harrison said.

By 7 p.m., a river of people continued to stream in from the gate to the stage area. Several older women moved slowly behind walkers.

Others walked past a white, 12-door Humvee limo, parked opposite the stage and against a chain-link fence. Men and women wearing bright orange shirts that read “Event Security” mingled with the crowd or answered questions, mostly from older folks.

“Is this where LeAnn will be?” was the typical question that got polite nods and affirmative responses.

Lines began to grow at several Port-A-Pottys beside the grandstand. People didn’t mind waiting for Rimes.

Arlie Campbell and his wife Edie, both of Manchester, were bundled up in jackets and tucked into a blanket as they sat in their own chairs in front of a picket fence about 300 feet from the stage.

“We came here to see LeAnn Rimes,” Arlie said. “We’ve been looking forward to this. We came at 3 or 4 o’clock and walked around the fair.”

As Motor Booty Affair kicked into an amped-up cover of the BeeGees “Stayin’ Alive,” the Campbells said their favorite Rimes song is “Nothing But Love Makes Sense.”

“We’re longtime fans,” Arlie said.

One nearby older lady, Katherine Spear of Turner, slowly walked along pushing a walker while trying to find her brother. She said she was tired and wanted to go home, having arrived at 9:30 a.m.

“We came up here to see what it’s like,” she said. “I like LeAnn. Her first song, ‘Luke,’ is my favorite song. She sings good, but she had a little wild streak for a while.”

Tom Rankin of Shapleigh sat several feet away in chairs he brought for himself and his son and daughter.

“We got here at 4:30,” he said. “We came basically for the concert. We’re longtime fans” of Rimes.

“They go to concerts and pay $40 to $60, but this is only $5,” Rankin said. “It’s great. When my son said LeAnn Rimes was coming up here, I couldn’t believe it, so I went online and found out she sure was and it was only $5.”

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