Music isn't all that's happening at Oro Valley Music Festival

Monday, 02 October 2017, 08:02:23 AM. Country lineup at first of two-day festival provides the backdrop for wedding party, water fight.

Kayla Wilson and Ari Milton could think of no better place to hold their bachelorette bash Saturday than the Oro Valley Music Festival.

So they brought their moms and bridal party to the Golf Course at Vistoso and plopped down in the middle of the greens just as Brooke Eden was taking the stage.

Wilson donned a bridal veil, Milton a sash as the two brides, who will wed at downtown’s Z Mansion on Oct. 15, blended into the sparse crowd that by late afternoon had swelled from a thousand or so to several thousand.

As Eden — the second act on Saturday’s country lineup — sang about the pitfalls of choosing Jack Daniels over Jesus to deal with a broken heart, Wilson’s little sister and maid of honor Kacey let out what might qualify as a squeal.

“I think it’s awesome and I love that I get to be here,” the 17-year-old University High School senior said as her mom, Cindy, and Milton’s mom, Nancy Wright, wished aloud that the love and happiness their daughters have shared the last seven years continues to grow.

The couple was planning to hold a post-festival/Tucson Pride gathering at a bar on Fourth Avenue for friends 21 and older. The festival was Kacey’s only shot at doing her part as maid of honor.

As the wind blew away some of the heat of the early fall day, Air Force recruiter Tech Sgt. Jonathan McQuay was up on the hill overlooking the grassy golf course, encouraging Matt Bennett to go for just one more pull-up on a makeshift bar next to the recruiting table.

“The record’s 15,” McQuay said as Bennett strained to pull himself up a 13th time.

“I got to 14,” Bennett said as family friend Michelle Garrone dropped off the bar after making a half pull-up.

Bennett’s wife, Courtney, got three and McQuay’s recruiting colleague, Staff Sgt. Cyrus Torres, rewarded her with a baseball cap emblazoned with “U.S. Air Force” and a cup cozy.

“They don’t have to do the pushups to get a prize,” he said. “But they like to challenge themselves and so they get a little exercise and it’s fun.”

Part of the joy of the two-day Oro Valley Music Festival, now in its third year, is going around the booths circling the festival grounds and collecting all manner of souvenirs, from pens and drink cozies to T-shirts and coupons for free haircuts. Vendors were advertising everything from home loans and car insurance to Broadway plays and local resorts. Subaru parked a couple new models right near the entrance of the greens, across from the Pima Community College women’s basketball team tent, where members of the team were selling concert T-shirts.

Across the festival grounds, not far from the bridal party, Scott Arkon and his staff spent the afternoon spraying fans with a water hose. Pure water, he said, just like the water he uses in his chemical-free Zerorez Carpet Cleaning business.

Moments before Michael Ray was set to take the stage to kick off the nighttime lineup, Arkon guessed he had sprayed a couple hundred people.

By the time the night wrapped, that number would likely grow to several hundred, maybe even a thousand, he speculated.

“We probably have 50 or 60 people come back 10, 12 times to get sprayed,” he said, as he squeezed the hose on a young boy and the spray almost reached brides-to-be Wilson and Milton.

A few more friends had joined their party there on the Golf Club at Vistoso greens and Wilson and Milton showed off a two-step; maybe they were rehearsing for the wedding day’s first dance.

They were still dancing when Ray looked out from the stage at the Catalina Mountain range ringing the golf course.

“This is the best damn view I’ve ever seen playing a show,” he said, and the crowd crushing against the stage and filling the front lawn turned to take in the view. “This is unreal.”

The Oro Valley Music Festival continues Sunday, Oct. 1, with a pop lineup headed by Gavin DeGraw and the band Train.

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