Ted Nugent, the right-wing rocker, is known for shredding on his Gibson guitar, original impromptu banter between songs and reassuring his followers that he’s still the same outspoken Motor City Madman.
On Saturday RidgeFest was seemingly empty until around 8 p.m. — just before “The Nuge” took the stage.
Nugent made plenty of politically-based comments on stage, including a reference to punishing drunk drivers and an accusation regarding Attorney General Eric Holder running guns to Mexico.
Nugent closed his set with a statement encouraging concert-goers to rally against President Barack Obama, stating “Defy the president of the United States. He’s a criminal.”
Secretary of State Jesse White made an appearance earlier in the day, bringing with him the high-flying and immensely talented Jesse White Tumbling Team. RidgeFest’s management team appeared to be taken by surprise as the secretary of state and his group of tumblers began to set up for the performance.
“We’re having trouble with the music playing and trouble getting a microphone,” White said. “It’s been Murphy’s Law today. Other than that we enjoy performing here and it’s a great event.”
After a few snags the group of 15 tumblers dazzled the audience while rock group Badd Penny ironically covered the Foo Fighters hit, “Learn to Fly.”
Volunteers from the Boy Scouts Troop 665, Men’s Club, American Legion, Our Lady of the Ridge Parish, Chicago Ridge Little League, and Illinois Patriot Guard manned various stations at the fest.
“I’ve lived in Chicago Ridge my whole life and I’ve been coming to RidgeFest or volunteering here for over 20 years,” said Chicago Ridge Little League President Ron Dryier. “RidgeFest brings the community together and it’s a family atmosphere, which is great for the kids.”
For Gold Star Father and Illinois Patriot Guard Donald Pannier, RidgeFest is just one of the 90 events a traveling wall of valor will visit to represent the brave men and women from Illinois who made the ultimate sacrifice. As a Gold Star Father, Pannier knows all too well the consequences of war. In January 2008 Pannier’s son, 20-year-old Army Spc. Phillip J. Pannier died of wounds sustained during combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom in Samarra, Iraq.
“The wall has over 300 men and women from Illinois who died while serving in the military,” Pannier said. “This wall is to respect and honor those who died and for their family, friends, classmates and battle-buddies. We hope when people walk away they never forget the cost of freedom.”
In addition to volunteers and local non-profits various vendors used RidgeFest to promote their companies and sell merchandise. For Mark and Wendy Stasukewicz, owners of Orland Park-based sportswear store, Nebbia-USA, RidgeFest was an opportunity to get their company’s name in front of the public.
“Chicago Ridge treated us very well and this is a great venue to get our name out there,” Mark said. “We’ve only been open for six months so coming out to fests like RidgeFest helps increase our in-person sales and we’ve already seen an increase in online sales after attending various summer festivals.”