Raise a Glass at Driftwood Country Music, Craft Beer & BBQ Festival 2018

Go Country 105 Presents Driftwood: Country Music, Craft Beer & BBQ Festival was held on Saturday, November 10 and Sunday, November 11 at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, CA and had thousands in attendance for the 3rd annual Veterans Day Weekend Celebration.

The festival was held at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, CA, which is a combination of park and beach at one of Southern California’s most beautiful and picturesque venues located in the infamous south Orange County. The grounds offered not only fun in the sun at a sandy beach, but a big grassy park, lined with many palm trees to kick up your boots and chill whether it be on a hammock, beach chair, towel, or park bench. There was one main stage and plenty of space for the plethora of entertainment to be had by all. This festival is not only a family friendly event but geared towards veterans and active military with special discounts and freebies to those who show a military I.D. as a “Thank You” for their service.

The festival included many libations that not only involved craft beers, BBQ, and live music, but a weekend of entertainment that featured line dancing workshops, mechanical bull rides, oversized interactive games such as Jenga, Beer Pong, Cornhole Bean Bag Toss to swinging on a cool bench in George Dickel Tennessee whiskey booth, to lots of shopping, cigars and cigarillos for those aficionados, to hanging out in the Saltwater Saloon, or checking out the awesome Hall of Heroes that featured photographs from a variety of organizations and military members on display including the special heartfelt reunions when the members of the military returned home from deployment.

Whatever your liquid taste preference, there were many beverage options, both loaded and unloaded, for all ages alike. The specialty adult beverages for the official tasting event included over 200 craft beers, ciders, sparkling wines, and even a tequila vendor was present in the mix of curated options. The tasting event opened at 1:00pm, with the early entry at high noon for VIP guests, and went until 4:00pm each day.

Craft beer has morphed in the past couple years, yielding many varietals from IPAs to ambers, to flavorful blondes to beer aged 9 months in bourbon barrels with maple syrup for example, to many tasty fruit and coffee infused crafts. The event offered tastings from an impressive list of breweries including Acoustic Ales Brewing Experiment, Alesmith Brewing Company, Allagash Brewing Company, Alpine Brewing, Artifex Brewing, Avery Brewing, Barley Forge, Belching Beaver Brewery, Bootlegger’s, Burgeon Beer Company, Chapman Crafted Beer, Craft Brewing Company, Concrete Jungle Brewing Project, Docent Brewing, Hangar 24 Craft Brewing, King Harbor Brewing Company, Latitude 33, Left Coast Brewing Company, Modern Times Brewery, The Good Beer Company, The Wild Barrel, Towne Park Brew Company to Barefoot Wine, Pura Vida Tequila and more. After the sampling event concluded, the festival included a variety of libations for purchase and many free samplings from Rockstar Energy, Bai, Healthade Kombucha, and Guayaki Yerba Matcha just to name a few of the alcohol-free tasty brands that were also present.

On to the BBQ and food options, there was plenty to go around from stand alone vendors to the infamous food trucks that lined the park’s walkways. As previous years, top-notch BBQ and a variety of cuisines from some of the region’s best restaurants and food trucks were also present and fed festival attendees with many savory options.

Just like the eclectic craft beers, the musical line up included a mix of country and rock with the commonality of the guitar and badassness. Saturday’s lineup included Naked Walrus, Filmore, Seth Ennis, Carly Pearce, Michael Ray and headliner Chase Rice who closed the night. Sunday’s lineup included Naked Walrus, Brandon Ray, Brooke Eden, Jamestown Revival, Kristian Bush of Sugarland, and headliners Big & Rich closing out the festival. Naked Walrus opened up the music shows on both days… although alternative rockers, they included a cover of iconic country hit “Jolene” which was right on point for this country festival.

The music at this festival was just like the variety of craft beers at this event with varied sounds from across the US. Whether it be Texan or from Nashville, Georgia to California, the lineup brought so much heart and soul making it all so great. Contrarily, it was just as awesome for these great musical artists to perform on the stage facing the perfect Cali dream of sand and surf. The weather was perfect as usual and the California coast at this Doheny venue shined on during the day and glimmered into the night with lighted palm trees adding extra flare to the musical beats in the air.   

All performers sang their hearts out with their artistry craft in a united front. Chase Rice closed out Saturday night’s show with a set filled with crowd favorites, and even came off the stage to meet and take selfies with ecstatic fans in the crowd at the end of the set. Like Jamestown Revival’s “Living the American Dream” to cowboy hats and country roses to sexy country songs and love ballads, or even to Katy Perry, Britney Spears, and Adele pop and 1994 old school country cover mosh ups from Keith Urban protige, Brandon Rae, and soulful Brooke Eden… all was so entertaining. Songs about love, money, exes, and brotherhood was a common theme. Kristian Bush from Sugarland brought his hip dance swagger to the stage and said his country music has a different sound and he wanted fans to embrace it with an open heart and open mind… and festival goers definitely did given their cheers. Big & Rich opened their show with Dj Sinister from Nashville, who brought his energy to the stage with a mosh up of music genres from country to rop to pop hits to get the crowd going. Big & Rich carried on the high beats and wrapped up the Veterans Day Weekend celebration with an energetic live show, and Cowboy Troy joined the group to perform a few songs, including their hit single, “Save A Horse [Ride A Cowboy].” The stage was filled with smiling fans, including Route 91 survivor Joe Ortiz who, after standing in the front row all night waving a Country Strong flag, was plucked from the crowd and given a seat on stage for the rest of the show. Big & Rich said they were blessed to be at this festival and they were going to keep the good times rolling… mission was accomplished with their awesome set.

This event was not only a beer and country music festival, but truly a celebration for Veterans and active duty military. As such, the following offerings were made available:  

  • Discounted tickets to the show via vettix.org, which offers tickets to verified members of the military
  • Veterans and active duty military could take the park and ride shuttle from the Outlets at San Clemente free of charge by using the code THANKYOU at www.driftwoodfest.com or show your military ID for a complimentary shuttle ride to and from the festival.
  • A member of the military was dubbed “Hometown Hero” and was honored and brought on stage during the show to receive a guitar signed by Driftwood artists.
  • The Hall of Heroes featured photographs from a variety of organizations and military members on display including reunions when the members of the military return home from deployment.
  • Several Driftwood vendors, including event sponsor Rockstar Energy Drink and clothing company Puppies Make Me Happy, offered discounts and freebies to those who showed a military I.D.
  • There were signs located throughout the festival grounds so that Driftwood attendees could leave messages for veterans and civilians.

Additionally, there were several local non-profits on-site that provided information and a number of services to veterans and military families as follows:

  • Patriots and Paws pairs veterans with rescued animals to helps reduce psychological and financial stress as they transition back into civilian life. It also helps military members and their families by providing them with home furnishings, small appliances and basic necessities.
  • Team Red, White and Blue shared information on how the organization has been able to connect veterans to their communities through physical and social activities.
  • Veterans Legal Institute provides pro bono legal assistance to homeless, at risk, disabled, and low-income current and former military service members to help them obtain housing, healthcare, education and employment.
  • The Seal Dog Foundation helps veterans acquire a professionally trained and registered service dog in accordance with the American Disability Act (ADA) in a timely and less costly manner. The foundation serves veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injuries and physical issues such as back or neck injuries.
  • The Marine Corps League-South Coast Detachment helps support Marines, sailors and their families in the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, the school of Infantry, the San Onofre Elementary School located on Camp Pendleton and the 1st Marine Regiment-Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force. The group offers various services throughout the year, but also helps ensure military families have Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, collects toys for kids and gift cards for families in need during the holiday season.

Before the headliners took the stage each night, the spotlight was on a local veteran being honored as a Hometown Hero. Each Hometown Hero was honored onstage for his service and was presented with a guitar autographed by that night’s headlining music act. On Saturday—also the birthday of the United States Marine Corps–Driftwood honored Justin Carnegie, a Marine with three deployments since 9/11. Sunday night, the Hometown Hero was Vietnam veteran Larry W. Fellows, who served in the Navy.

Go Country 105 Presents Driftwood is produced by Synergy Global Entertainment (SGE) and Brew Ha Ha Productions. Elenie Reese of SGE elaborated on the festival’s dedication to supporting veterans: “The Hometown Hero is not only to show our deep gratitude to the one military member or veteran that we bring up on stage, it is also a ‘thank you’ to all our active duty military, veterans, and their families in the audience – because the family members and their caregivers serve right along with them. In our Hall Of Heroes area, we commemorate many generations, conflicts and wars, men and women, and everyone who served in the military, going back to the Korean War, which still has veterans that are with us. We most appreciate seeing our artists and others associated with the festival genuinely supporting this cause. For example, Chase Rice and our guest, actor Scott Eastwood, personally went out to the Hall of Heroes and talked with the veterans and active-duty military members, as have so many of the other bands and artists that we work with at SGE events. For the past 12 years, SGE has been actively engaged in fund-raising and raising awareness for this important cause. We feel it’s especially important to support this young generation of active-duty military and veterans, due to the challenges that many of them have experienced since 9/11.”

A portion of the proceeds from Go Country 105 Presents Driftwood will be donated to the Doheny State Beach Interpretive Association (DSBIA)—the non-profit cooperating association of Doheny State Beach, dedicated to the protection of the park’s beaches, facilities, marine refuge and its historical, cultural and social stories—and the San Onofre Parks Foundation—a California non-profit that cooperatively works with the California State Parks to develop, preserve and enhance the recreation and experience of California’s unique and beautiful coastal parks.

Sponsors for Go Country 105 Presents Driftwood included Pura Vida Bracelets, Wienerschnitzel, Musicians Institute, George Dickel, Avery Brewing Co., Bai Beverages, Rockstar Energy Drink, Head Down Eyes Up, Deep Eddy Vodka, Boot Barn, Barefoot Wines, and many more.


Images by Johnnie Crow
Words by Melissa Butterfly

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