HENRYETTA, Okla. – Troy Aikman came to his beloved hometown on Friday with great news.
The Pro Football Hall of Famer and broadcaster Fox Sports are bringing Blake Shelton and a star-studded country music lineup to town next summer for a day-long music festival.
All proceeds from “Troy Aikman’s Highway to Henryetta,” slated for June 11, will provide much needed funding to the local school district and strengthen community initiatives.
Aikman, 54, who served as the quarterback for the college football team in 1981-83, delivered his news flash at a cheering rally on Friday afternoon before the Henryetta Knights took off. load onto buses for a game 80 km away in Haskell.
Anyone who has ever watched Friday night lights knows the importance of cheering rallies in small towns on match days. That’s why he chose him for the big reveal.
Henryetta is located approximately 60 miles south of Tulsa and 90 miles east of Oklahoma City. This is a 3.5 hour direct shot north of Dallas.
Aikman said he hopes to attract 10,000 to 15,000 day-trippers from those metropolitan areas to hear Shelton and a host of Red Dirt musicians playing this kind of folk, rock, country, bluegrass, blues, western swing and honky-tonk. from Oklahoma with a few Mexicans. influences discarded.
Country is Aikman’s favorite music.
Aikman moved to a farm in Henryetta, Southern California with her family when she was 12, and “quickly fell in love with the country lifestyle and the simple beauty of the city,” he said. he stated in an interview.
Longtime resident and Henryetta Mayor Jennifer Munholland said she was “totally blown away” by Aikman’s largesse.
“We are Small Town America. It’s something Henryetta has never seen, ”said Munholland, 49. “To make it even more instrumental, it’s Troy Aikman doing it.”
When people ask him where he’s from, the Dallas resident never hesitates to say he’s Henryetta.
“To him always calling us his hometown means more than you can imagine,” Munholland said. “Although he’s done great things – went to UCLA, went to Dallas, went to Fox Sports – he still maintains his ties here and makes it known he will do whatever it takes to keep Henryetta strong. . “
Aikman first proposed the idea of a music festival in Munholland during a lunch at a local Mexican restaurant five months ago.
She said she did her best to keep the plans a secret – a tough job in a town of about 5,400 people where everyone looks after each other.
“I didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag until Troy announced it,” said Munholland, who has known Aikman since she was in elementary school.
When rumor started to spread that Henryetta’s most famous hometown hero was flying in his private jet for more than just a routine visit, the people of town thought it was a joke.
But when the film crews started showing up on Friday morning, it was clear something big was brewing.
When Aikman walked over to the microphones in the center court of the high school gymnasium at 1800 Troy Aikman Ave., he didn’t disappoint.
“We decided to organize a music festival,” he told students and teachers. “It won’t be just any early music festival. We will do everything. It will be top notch, first class in every way.
When he announced that Blake Shelton had agreed to headline the event, the gym reacted as if the Knights had just won the state championship.
The former UCLA Bruins and Dallas Cowboys superstar is known for his philanthropic efforts in his college alma mater and in North Texas, where he was a staunch supporter of the Children’s Medical Center Dallas and the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. He chaired Centraide’s annual campaign in 2017-2018, which raised more than $ 60 million.
His focus now is to help Henryetta, which, like so many small towns, has been hit hard by the pandemic and economic setbacks, he said.
It has seen its population decline by more than 10% over the past two decades.
“I’m proud of the way its people, including many of the same people who lived there when I made it, fared,” Aikman said.
The festival is “a nod to their resilience”.
He told the students at the cheering rally that he mistakenly believed his childhood dream of becoming a professional athlete was shattered by the family’s move from glitzy Southern California to a farm in Henryetta. “I had never been around a cow, rode a horse, let down a pig or any of those chores, but that was the life I had then. “
In no time he realized he had found his home.
“Not only did Henryetta not stop me from making my childhood dream come true, it helped me make that dream come true,” he said. “A lot of the values I carry with me to this day are due to my time here in Henryetta, Oklahoma. I have learned the value of hard work.
The festival will be produced by Dallas-based Tony Fay Public Relations in conjunction with C3 Presents, the Austin-based concert promoter of the Austin City Limits Music Festival, Lollapalooza Chicago and other large-scale events.
The price of the tickets and how the proceeds from the concert will be distributed to Henryetta will be announced later, Fay said.
The festival will take place in picturesque Nichols Park, just south of the city, which covers over 300 acres with a lake in the middle.
Aikman seduced Shelton, his longtime friend, fellow Oklahomaniac and popular vocal coach on NBC The voice, to be the featured host by texting him.
Aikman said he received an “I’m in” response five minutes later.
“I’m excited to join my buddy Troy Aikman for the premiere of ‘Highway to Henryetta’, a great idea that benefits great people,” Shelton said in a prepared statement. “I always look forward to playing in my home country and look forward to supporting the hometown of Troy in the process. It’s gonna be a lot of fun.