DECATUR – Greg Florian spent Wednesday driving Craig Morgan around the Farm Progress Show.
“He's a beekeeper,” Florian said. “And we went past the Bayer (Crop Science) exhibit, and he's interested in bees because bees are so important to farming and pollinating. He went in there and looked at the beehive and collected some literature. He was pretty impressed at the size of some of the equipment out here.”
Morgan was the headline act Wednesday on the grounds of Richland Community College and drew a record audience, said Richland President Gayle Saunders. The specific numbers won't be in until today or Friday, she added, but preliminary counts were higher than expected.
Florian described Morgan as “a regular guy” and enjoyed driving him around, he said, and Morgan proved to be a regular guy during his show. He joked with the audience, pulled one audience member up on stage with him to hold the lyrics for him to a song he said he hadn't quite learned yet and stopped one song in the middle because he'd accidently swallowed a bug.
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“I thought he went down, but he got stuck,” Morgan said, laughing and coughing. He took a drink from his bottle of water, apologized, and picked up right where he'd left off.
A portion of ticket sales helped support Folds of Honor, a veterans' group, and veterans were provided with special badges at the gate. Morgan also recognized them in his show, stopping another song to say “thank you.”
“We all know that without you, we wouldn't be able to live the lives we choose,” he said. Morgan is himself a veteran, with 10 years' service in the Army, among his many roles that have also included work as an emergency medical technician, a contractor and a sheriff's deputy.
The opening act was Eric Burgett, who is from Latham and a graduate of Millikin University. His band included fellow Millikin graduates, three of whom are from Decatur and are now working in Nashville, including Jacob Widenhofer, who plays lead guitar for Christian artist Matthew West.
Richland board member Dale Colee said the night was a perfect one for a concert.
“It's all about serving the community,” he said. “We wanted to do something for the community that's very, very positive. I can't say enough good things about Richland and Farm Progress.”