WILLISTON —Country star Travis Tritt performed for more than a thousand Sunday night, engaging the appreciative crowd with old favorites and even howling at the moon.
“The biggest reason we’re here in Williston is we’re here to party with you tonight,” Tritt shouted from the stage, before launching into an hour and a half-long set of well-known hits.
Richele Bartow, 30, and Tamara Smith, 27, both of Williston, who spent much of the night pressed against a fence separating the crowd from the stage, held down spots directly in front of the singer.
“I’m super excited,” Smith said. “We never get big acts in Williston.”
Bartow agreed. “When we heard Travis was coming to town, I knew I had to go,” she said.
The two were looking forward to hearing Tritt perform “T-R-O-U-B-L-E” and dive bar favorite “Here’s a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares).”
The Grammy winner delivered those two songs, and many others, including “Tell Me That You Didn’t Say Good-Bye,” “I’m Gonna be Somebody” and “It’s a Great Day to be Alive.”
Courtney Brudwick and her daughter Samantha, 17, staked out a spot in the front row thanks to the kindness of fellow concert-goers who made room for and surrounded Samantha’s wheelchair. Tritt noticed the teenager, who has cerebral palsy, and played a guitar solo for her during the middle of the show.
“She loved it, I loved it,” Courtney Brudwick said.
The concert, billed as the Bakken Energy Festival, was originally planned for an outdoor stage at the Williston fairgrounds, but forecast storms forced a spontaneous move inside of the Agri-Sports complex.
About 1,500 people nearly filled the space, which organizers worked fast to prepare in time.
“We had to pivot, we had everything planned for outside,” said Jason Marmon, the festival’s managing director. “We didn’t get done with the stage until about 45 minutes before the show was about to start.”
The concert itself was planned in a hurry, after Marmon realized that despite the oil industry slowdown, a few companies were willing to donate to a community event.
“I think people should still be aware of the resourcefulness of this area, there was a time when dollars were flying around like crazy… But there are still companies that have projects to do, it’s just finding those people who are still driving things forward here,” he said.