6,000 and counting

This is likely the first year Shellabration has brought in more than 6,000 people for a night of rock ‘n’ roll.

“I’m comfortable and confident saying this is the year we get 6,000,” Shellabration President Jim Reed said. “That’s testimony to how popular Lynyrd Skynyrd is.”

Tickets were sold in 14 states other than Iowa, Reed said. “That’s almost a third of the country.”

Among the out-of-state ticketholders was Billy Foondle.

Foondle came from Minot, North Dakota, on his buggy dedicated to the band. It’s painted in stars and stripes with the image of a bald eagle on the front. On the back, near its talons, are the words “Free Bird.”

“I’m a die-hard fan,” Foondle said.

He drove more than 700 miles just to see the show.

Foondle has seen Lynyrd Skynyrd six times since 1998, he said. Just over a month ago he saw the band in New Town, North Dakota. He may even see them again in Sturgis, South Dakota, on Sunday, he said.

For Friday’s concert, he bought a pair of meet-and-greet tickets for his girlfriend and himself, as well as eight other tickets for his friends.

“I’m so amped,” Foondle said.

He never saw the original band, but he had tickets to a Seattle concert that didn’t happen. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s plane crashed in 1977.

“I was a Lynyrd Skynyrd fan back when the plane went down,” Foondle said.

Opening for 2014’s Lynyrd Skynyrd was Fort Dodge rock band Planet Rock.

Terrilee Bowden, of Fort Dodge, Planet Rock’s lead vocalist, said it was “surreal” to share the stage with Lynyrd Skynyrd.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Bowden said after playing in front of thousands.

Among the fans she sang for was Paul Eigenberger, of Marshalltown.

“It’s awesome,” Eigenberger said. “You can tell they did a real great job putting it together.”

Eigenberger has been to Shellabration in the past, but at the Oleson Bandshell. This year, Shellabration was held at the Harlan and Hazel Rodgers Sports Complex.

Someone was using a drone to film the crowd.

“That’s the first time I’ve seen one of those,” Eigenberger said of the drone.

Tony Rody, a Shellabration volunteer, got into the show for free. All he had to do was flag down cars in the parking lot.

“I get to see the show,” he said. “That’s the best part.”

Rody had never seen Lynyrd Skynyrd live, but he knew they’re good.

“They always rock,” Rody said.

Also sharing the stage with Lynyrd Skynyrd was Southern rock band Drake White and the Big Fire.

“He’s destined for great things,” Reed said of Drake White.