Folks at Hanging Rock State Park celebrated the Fourth of July a little early on Sunday evening with a beach party filled with food, toe-tapping music and a lake full of swimmers.
“We had no idea how many to expect,” said park superintendent Robin Riddlebarger at the inaugural event as families kept emerging onto the beachy shore. “Normally, we start closing the beach area around 5:45, so to see people still coming in is really cool.”
To help promote the party, a black and white photo taken in the 1960s of a young band playing on a stage in front of a lake, similar to Hanging Rock, was posted on social media. While many believed it dated back in time to Danbury, Riddlebarger said it was actually of her father who passed away in December.
“He was playing bass with his brother in a state park in Ohio. He had given it to me not long ago and I thought that’s real America, music on the beach. When I saw it, I really thought we ought to do something like that.”
Riddlebarger spoke with Skip Staples, a member of the Traveling Danburys group, who recruited fellow musicians John Hartman, Kay Richey, Bruce Burgess, Rebecca Dresser, and local retired band teacher Steve Shelton on drums.
“We have these amazing songwriters and talented people living right here and to have them perform was perfect. It doesn’t get much better, to have them and this beautiful backdrop of our park.”
Hanging Rock State Park is known for its successful partnership with the Stokes County Arts Council, along with the park’s creative programs.
Last year, Hanging Rock was recognized for offering the most programs than any park in the state.
“We always try to provide something for everybody,” Riddlebarger said.
On Sunday, the Danbury Songwriters belted out popular classics and smooth beach music melodies.
“We had a great time. Robin (Riddlebarger) is creative and she’s great to work with,” Staples said. “We’ve played in the campground before, but this was fun because there was a lot of familiar faces and locals.”
“We don’t usually do these type of songs,” he added. “It isn’t our regular set, but I loved it. It’s music of my day. When we were rehearsing, we were getting serious for a little while, and then we had to say, ‘Wait a minute. This is all about fun.’ That’s exactly what we did tonight. We had a lot of fun.”
Amanda Dodson may be reached at 336-813-2426.