Clewiston’s biggest event of the year is returning on April 11. What began as an event for U.S. Sugar Corporation’s employees to celebrate the end of harvest season has become an annual event that draws crowds from all over South Florida.
The 28th Annual Sugar Festival kicks off on Friday, April 11 with the Rotary Club BBQ lunch, a talent show sponsored by Drug Free Hendry County, and the 11th annual street dance on Bond Street.
The festival heats up on Saturday, April 12 with all-day festivities, including a 5k run/walk in the morning, arts and crafts shows at Civic Park, a class car show, dance floor performances and musical entertainment on the main stage beginning at 11:30 a.m. and culminating with a performance from headliner Dustin Lynch at 5 p.m.
Dustin Lynch is best-known for his platinum-selling single, “Cowboys and Angels,” released in 2012. The Clewiston News spoke with Mr. Lynch about his rise up the country music charts and his upcoming performance at the Sugar Festival.
Lynch said becoming a country music singer has always been a dream of his, but his rise to the top did not come easily.
“It was one of those things I dreamed about doing as a kid. I picked up a guitar at four years old because of Garth Brooks. It’s one of those things you don’t even think is possible to do, yet here we are,” said Lynch.
Lynch moved to Nashville from his hometown of Tullahoma, Tenn. in 2003.
“I didn’t know anybody. I took a leap of faith and got up here and tried to figure out what was going on. There’s a whole other world here that I didn’t even know existed. I learned about all the moving parts that make this thing work,” Lynch said.
Those moving parts are what make the music industry such a difficult world to navigate, but also such a wonderful place to be once you’re able to crack it. One of those moving parts includes song-writing, which Lynch said he tries to do as much as possible.
“I try to [write my own music],” said Lynch. “I was grilling Garth [Brooks] … who told me to focus on recording the best songs you can, whether you write them or not. There’s so many great song writers in this town.”
Lynch said it is a matter of “may the best song win” when it comes to making it in Nashville, but Lynch didn’t let the competitiveness weigh on him, his 2012 debut album went to No. 13 on the U.S. Billboard Top 200 and No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums. Lynch’s first single, “Cowboys and Angels,” surpassed platinum status and his second single, “She Cranks My Tractor,” also saw great success.
Lynch wrote or co-wrote 10 of the 13 tracks on his debut album, a process Lynch says is like making “magic everyday.”
“You start out with nothing but a couple of friends and a guitar, and one day you come up with a song that changes peoples lives. That’s cool and never gets old,” he said.
Now, Lynch is preparing to release his sophomore album later this year. Lynch said the second album is “chapter two” of himself.
“I’m going to keep doing my thing, like I did on the first album. I brought in a new producer and I’ve become a lot better singer and song writer than the first album. Hopefully, everyone will agree that it’s a step up from the last album,” he said.
Coming back from such a successful debut album, Lynch said he wasn’t nervous heading into the studio to record the second one.
“I was more excited. I want it to be another chart topping success, but I’m so confident in the songs we have, there’s no nervousness,” said Lynch.
Lynch’s second album includes his new single, “Where It’s At,” a catchy, upbeat song that’s sure to be a Friday night favorite during the hot Florida summer.
Florida fans, Lynch said, are one of his favorites and he looks forward to his upcoming performance at the Sugar Festival.
“We love Florida. We have a great fan base down there,” said Lynch. “They’re all die hard country fans that are looking for an excuse to party. That’s our favorite kind of people.”
Lynch takes the main stage at Clewiston’s Sugar Festival at 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 12.