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Examiner
  • Joe Diffie gets a do-over at Santa-Cali-Gon

  • Joe Diffie fans get a second chance.



    The country singer whose No. 1 songs in the past have included “Third Rock from the Sun” and “Pickup Man” is set to appear on Aug. 30, the opening night of Santa-Cali-Gon Days on the Independence Square.

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  • Joe Diffie fans get a second chance.
    The country singer whose No. 1 songs in the past have included “Third Rock from the Sun” and “Pickup Man” is set to appear on Aug. 30, the opening night of Santa-Cali-Gon Days on the Independence Square.
    Diffie was scheduled to appear last year, but the remnants of Hurricane Isaac drenched the area with more than 5 inches of rain over about 30 hours. For the first time in the festival’s history, the Independence Chamber of Commerce was forced to cancel Friday night’s events.
    Donovan Butler, chair of the chamber’s festival board, said Diffie was disappointed and wanted to come back.
    “He really looked forward to performing last year,” Butler said.
    Diffie is set for the same night and same stage, the main stage in the parking west of City Hall, just off the Square itself. It’s next to the beer garden, which is expanded this year.
    The chamber also seems to have renewed a tradition of catching rising country stars. On Saturday, the main stage will feature Brett Eldredge, whose “Don’t Ya” is No. 7 this week on the Billboard country chart.
    “He’s a newcomer – up and coming,” said Lois McDonald, who is coordinating much of the festival planning for the chamber.
    Sunday’s show, Butler said, promises to have a lot of energy and get people moving – local favorites LoCash Cowboys and Blackjack Billy, a band that just played at Jackson County’s Fourth of July festival at Longview Lake.
    “Sunday night is probably the night I’m most excited about right now,” Butler said.
    Blackjack Billy’s big song at the moment is “The Booze Cruise.”
    “It’s kind of shaping up to be the song of the summer,” Butler said.
    At least two tribute bands play on Labor Day. One is Hell’s Bells (AC/DC), and the other is Double Vision (Foreigner).
    There’s also a change at the main stage. Instead of the first few rows of seats being set aside for VIPs such as the sponsors who write the checks for these shows – seats that sometimes have sat empty – there’s now a 20-foot-by-20-foot area adjacent to the stage itself for VIPs to stand. The shows, like the festival, are free. The VIP space also can be used to reward the volunteers the chamber relies upon to put on the festival, Butler said.
    In addition, there’s a variety of acts on the community stage and contemporary and classic gospel music on the gospel stage.
    Some other changes this year:
    • The volleyball game between girls players from William Chrisman and Truman high schools is being moved to the corner of Kansas Avenue and Main Street. Last year it was a couple of blocks to the north on Main, but “the crowd was really larger than the location could accommodate,” McDonald said.
    Page 2 of 2 - • The Community Services League wine garden will be inside and air-conditioned. It’s at 120 S. Main, in Elena’s restaurant.

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