The day was gorgeous - bright sunshine filled the cloudless Carolina blue sky and kept things nice and warm. We left the house at 10:30 and headed to Childress Vineyards which was one of the shuttle locations. After we parked, we paid our fare and hopped on one of the many trolleys they had running to the festival all day. After a quick 5 minute ride, the trolly dropped us off at one end of Main Street and our adventure began.
We had some time before Caleb Johnson was scheduled to appear on the Grand Stage at 12:15 so we stopped to let Peter ride a mechanical bull.
We admired a street performer and then we let the kids take a look at what was billed as "The World's Largest Pig". We stopped to see what time the pig races were but I decided not to wait. I wanted to get to the stage so we kept moving There were 100s of vendors selling their wares but we weren't there for that either so we continued toward the general direction of the main stage.
We made our way to a BBQ tent and the kids had sandwiches, fries and Pepsi (born in the Carolinas, you know). We ate our sandwiches within view of the Grand Stage and listened as the Chairmen of the Board finished their set.
After they walked off the stage, the MC announced that Caleb Johnson would be performing in 30 minutes so we tossed our trash and headed in the gates. We were able to get a great spot in the very front to the right of the stage.
We hung out there for 30 minutes. The time flew by and we were even able to get a quick glimpse of Caleb "back stage" or "back street" as it were.
At 12:15 on the nose, he came out. Sarah was very calm and collect through the whole hour and 10 minute show. She never screamed or cheered. She occasionally clapped but never showed her excitement.
She downloaded his album from iTunes the day it was released so she knew all of his songs but never once sung a long. He performed some covers that he had performed on American Idol and even as the crowd was going crazy, she remained calm.
There were a couple of girls who were probably a year or two older than her standing next to her and she later told me she didn't want to scream or cheer because the girls next to her might hear her and "that would be embarrassing". (I've got a lot to teach that girl about how to act at a concert!)
After the show, the crowd began to leave the gated area and we could hear them announcing that Caleb was going to be signing autographs at his souveneir tent. Earlier last week, Sarah had asked me if there was going to be am meet and greet before the show and if so, were we going.
I had to laugh at that. Meet and greet?! Ha! Didn't she realize how lucky she was that she was even going to the show. And no, I didn't think there was going to be a meet and greet and even if there was, we would not be going.
Once she heard he was signing autographs, I knew there was no turning back. We gently pushed through the crowds toward the souvenir tent. Luckily, when they made that announcement we were fairly close to the tent.
There were no lines at the souvenir tent, just a bunch of people shoving things toward Caleb to autograph. As we were patiently waiting our turn and scrounging through my bag for something to autograph, I realized that if we bought something, we would get through the "line" faster and we would have a better chance getting close enough for a picture with him.
After about only 10 minutes of the chaos (Which really was quite controlled even though there were no lines The fact that there was a policeman standing right behind Caleb probably helped.) I realized that the people in front of us weren't buying anything so I held up my money and the woman selling tee shirts, posters and CDs asked what I wanted. I placed my order for a shirt and poster and she laid it beside Caleb to sign. I paid and we moved up right in front of Caleb.
He smiled down at Sarah, said hello and asked how she was doing. She smiled shyly and said "hello" and "fine" back. Then he posed for a picture with her, we thanked him and got the heck out of the way.
I can honestly say that I was more excited than Sarah. She acted so nonchalant about the whole thing - as if, well of course I just met my idol and favorite singer of all time, because isn't that how its supposed to be?
As we walked away, she said, "Thank for taking me to see Caleb Johnson, Mom. Is it time to go to Gabby's house for my sleepover yet?"
And it was, except that I had to stop for some fried pickles, because, I love me some fried pickles - almost as much as Sarah loves Caleb Johnson. Although I probably acted more excited about the pickles than she did about meeting Caleb.