Without a doubt, Willie Nelson was high on the list of bands to see for the festival attendees at Free Press Summer Fest. His quiet presence was greeted with adoring eyes, giant smiles, and lyrics sung loudly in joy. Braids and bandanas were worn with Texas pride.

Willie’s battered and beaten guitar showed signs of life: weathered wood, signatures and even a hole beneath the strings. I wondered where else that guitar had traveled.  What crowds it had seen. I took a moment to sit and listen. To really watch Willie Nelson play guitar. To listen to him share stories in a way that is so quickly (and sadly) becoming the past.

It’s easy to imagine that I was not the only one in awe this past Sunday at Eleanor Tinsley Park. There was one fan in the audience in particular who clearly did everything she could to get to the spot she wanted: front row. She sang along, jumped up against the guardrail, threw her hands in the air with her red bandana and braids swinging along to the beat of her happiness. Then, the unimaginable happened. As Willie left the stage, he threw his bandana to the crowd. Right in front of her. As she went to grab it, so did one of the security guards working the photography pit area. She had one end tightly in her hand but the other end was held by the security guard. She pleaded with him. She looked at him straight in the eye and yelled out “pleeeeease” in such an honest tone that he didn’t even say a word. He just let go. She immediately fell to the ground in tears of joy. Her friends could be heard saying, “let her cry.” For they knew what a significant moment this was for her. A defining moment, a moment this fan will remember for years and years to come happend for her at Free Press Summer Fest this year. “And come whatever happens now, ain’t nice to know that dreams still come true. I’m so glad that I was close to you, for a moment of forever.” – Willie Nelson

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