Musical montage: Entertainment options abound for annual Persimmon Festival


MITCHELL — One of the best parts of the Persimmon Festival, when it rolls into Mitchell each September, is the load of free musical entertainment on tap throughout the week.

This year’s musical lineup will feature gospel, modern gospel, oldies, rock, country and country rock.What you hear depends on what night you go.

The headliner for the week will be the Wednesday night performance by the Hunter Smith Band. The Wray Bros. will follow Building Nations on Thursday, and the crowd-pleasing sounds from Endless Summer will rock Friday night’s crowd. Larry Summerton and The Summertime Band will close out the festival on Saturday night.


Musical punt

When Super Bowl champion punter Hunter Smith retired from the National Football League after 12 years, he had a plan.

First, he put together an eclectic group of musicians and coupled those men with a catalogue of self-written biographical songs. In the end, he melded a singer-songwriter approach to a serious and unique country rock sound.

The Hunter Smith Band consists of Smith on lead vocals, bassist Kyle Whiteley, lead guitarist Justin Langebartels, guitarist Ethan Ehrstine and drummer Alex Reiff.

In his bio posted online, Smith says, “I’m not a discontent person, but I was growing unhappy with the direction of pop music for some time. Maybe this sounds idealistic, but I believe you can have both — artistic integrity and a relevant sound. That’s what HSB is about.”

The band will perform on the Main Street stage at 7 p.m. on Sept. 25. Its first album is called “Green.” It’s available through iTunes or at


Savior’s sounds

The Thursday night of the festival is always dubbed gospel night and features those groups that worship the Lord through music.

Building Nations, a popular local rock worship band, will take the stage at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 26.

The band’s goal is to “build up nations for God’s glory.” Building Nations, which also will perform at Sunday’s youth vesper service at 5 p.m. at the Mitchell High School auditorium, consists of David and Randy VanLandingham on vocals, Karen VanLandingham on bass, Keeran Jones on drums and Isaac Hawkins and Dave Higgins on guitar.

Building Nations will be followed by the Wray Brothers, a southern gospel band, which takes the stage at 8 p.m. Sept. 26.

The Wray Bros. feature the voice talents of Delbert Wray and Joe Wray, who are Mitchell natives, as well as Dave Hatfield and Steve Paugh. The vocalists are accompanied by Randy Beck, Cory Beck, Parker Wray and D.J. Hatfield, who provide instrumental backup. They’ve performed for more than 45 years and have been featured at the festival for many years.


Festival favorite

Friday’s featured entertainment is the festival favorite, Endless Summer, which will take the stage at 7 p.m.

Providing a high-energy show, the group provides a musical variety. The band, based in Indianapolis, features Faith Marie, Brian Marshall Goodwin, Nick Lemmo, Bryan England and David Clawson.

The band has performed at the Persimmon Festival for more than a decade and performs hits from the past and present, including tunes from the Beach Boys, Righteous Brothers, Frankie Valli, Dixie Chicks, Bon Jovi, Elvis Presley, Joan Jett, Lady Gaga, Journey, Big & Rich, Adele, the Black Eyed Peas and Roy Orbison.



The Summertime Band will make its Persimmon Festival debut on Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. on the Main Street stage.

Summertime began playing together in 2005 and has performed at least 65 gigs a year since that time.

The members are Larry Summerton, rhythm guitar and vocals; Dickie Staggs, lead guitar and vocals; Hebrew Wright, bass and vocals; and Buddy Mitchell on drums.

The Summertime Band has played a lot of what it calls “cool gigs,” such as the Space Ball in Mitchell. The function honored Mitchell native Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom and his contributions to NASA. Also, the band has performed at The Players Pub, Eagle Pointe, Rusty’s, Shorty’s, the Olde Downtown Tavern, The Bluebird and at BBQ at the Quarry, just to name a few.

It plays mostly classic rock with a little country mixed in. It specializes in music band members claim “will make you want to dance.”

Contact Times-Mail Staff Writer Krystal Shetler at 277-7264 or by email at


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