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MusicFest XXV Headliners Announced

Posted on June 20, 2012

Originally published by the El Dorado News-Times on June 21, 2012.

By: Tia Lyons

The audience who gathered Wednesday at the Rialto Theater erupted several times with cheers, whistles, claps and whoops as the headliners for MusicFest XXV, set for Oct. 5 and 6, were announced via a video presentation on the big screen.

Hip-hop will dominate the main stage on the Friday night leg of the two-day festival, with performances scheduled by Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer.

"I think this is only the fifth time in last 10 years (that MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice have performed on the same bill) in North America,? said Givens, executive director of Main Street El Dorado, which organizes MusicFest.

"Vanilla Ice will play first, then MC Hammer, and then they will play together to close it out,? he continued. "My idea is that it?s pop culture. Like it or not, everyone knows their name and they?re a huge draw. You can?t make everybody happy, but we certainly try.?

Audience members roared when the familiar opening strands of Vanilla Ice?s most popular hit, "Ice, Ice Baby? blared from the loudspeakers.

The song began after a dramatic silence during which the screen went blank for a few seconds, giving the appearance of a technical problem with the audio-visual equipment.

"Ice? was followed by "U Can?t Touch This,? which catapulted Oakland, Calif., native MC Hammer to superstardom in 1990.

Givens said Hammer is on a nationwide 25th anniversary tour.

Rising R&B/rap star Steven Cooper, whose hit single, "Bigger,? a collaboration with hit-maker Akon, will serve as the lead-in to Vanilla Ice and Hammer on Friday night.

On Saturday, Grammy-nominated country music star Jake Owen will headline the festival, along with Kayla Reeves, a blues and rock prodigy and lead singer of the world-renowned Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Other featured acts for the weekend are Frank Foster, who was part of the 2011 MusicFest lineup, Wes Jeans, Parmalee, Maggie Koerner, and PAIL, a South Arkansas favorite and the longest-playing MusicFest stage act.

The headliners weren?t the only major announcements on Wednesday. Givens said MSE has partnered with other groups to extend MusicFest weekend.

Members of the Boomtown Classic committee, Rep. Matthew Shepherd and Don Miller of Murphy USA, informed the crowd that the fourth annual football-themed event is set for Oct. 6 at Memorial Stadium.

Kick-off time is 1:30 p.m. for the game between Southern Arkansas University and Harding University. 

Givens said Parmelee, whose single "Musta Had a Good Time? moved from satellite radio to country music radio just last week and has sold 40,000 downloads, will perform the national anthem for the game.

Shepherd noted that Murphy USA is the title sponsor of BTC.

"I?m very excited to be part of this event and the effort to make MusicFest even bigger,? added Miller.

Additionally, the South Arkansas Symphony will present a matinee performance of Pictures at an Exhibition, featuring pianist Yue Chu, at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 7 at the El Dorado Municipal Auditorium, Givens said.

"I think it?s going to be a great weekend, mixing college football with MusicFest and finishing it up with the symphony on Sunday,? Givens said. "If that?s not something for everyone, then I don?t know what is.?

The party then focused on MusicFest.

Greg Withrow of El Dorado Chemical said the company is proud to once again serve as title sponsor of MusicFest.

He also thanked those in the audience for their "support, prayers and thoughts? during the trying times El Dorado Chemical has faced in recent weeks.

An explosion and fire severely damaged equipment at the facility on May 15.

"We?ve started two units back up this week, and they?re making and selling product so we?ve reached a milestone,? Withrow said. "We?re glad to be able to continue to support MusicFest because it sells El Dorado and brings more people to it.?

Givens and Beth Chadwick, president of MSE, cited new activities for this year?s festival, including a 195-foot zip-line over the festival site and the Dragon Master Showcase, a street-performance crew from New Orleans.

An audience member asked if discount weekend passes would be available this year, and Givens said yes.

He also said admission into the festival will be free before 3 p.m. on Saturday.

MSE first tried out the free admission in 2011, and Givens said the idea "went really well last year.?

Prior to the announcement of the headlining acts, the audience was  treated to a musical montage of video footage that was shot at MusicFest over the last six years.

Givens said that even though the 25th anniversary celebration of MusicFest is under way, there have been few archival records and no video footage of the festival prior to 2006.

Chadwick said a MusicFest planning meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce.

She urged anyone who is interested in volunteering, especially those who are looking to work in a particular area, to sign up as quickly as possible.

"Last year, we had to turn away volunteers. We?re going to take them as we get them. If the area where you want to work is filled up, we can find somewhere else for you to work,? she said.

For more information, call the MSE office at 862-4747 or visit"