FOREST CITY | Emma Barsness is just 10 years old, but when Brad Paisley took the stage Saturday afternoon at the Tree Town Music Festival in Forest City, she screamed like a veteran concert attendee and a little girl.
"He's awesome," Barsness said before Paisley was on stage. "I like his songs."
Barsness and her mom, Stefanie, came from Clear Lake to attend the festival at Heritage Park of North Iowa. Several artists including Brantley Gilbert performed on Saturday while Toby Keith will perform Sunday night at the end of the two-day event.
"I didn't think it would be this big," Barsness said of the festival crowd.
Paisley had festival organizers reschedule his performance from Saturday night to the afternoon. It didn't seem to harm attendance as several thousand were at the concert. Tree Town organizers have said they hoped for 10,000 people in the first year and it appeared it may have hit that mark when Paisley performed.
BARSNESS AND HER MOM were at the front of the crowd in an area reserved for those who wanted to be near the stage. She was several spaces away from Leanna Rosel, also of Clear Lake.
Rosel, a woman who is a few years older than Barsness, was as giddy with excitement as Barsness was.
"Is there anybody else playing?" Rosel joked before Paisley's concert started.
This was Rosel's first time to see Paisely perform. She wore a pink Paisley T-shirt and carried two photos of Paisley with her.
She was at the concert with her husband Jeff and friends Dawn and Danny Winkowitsch, also of Clear Lake.
The friends have attended concerts at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake but this was their first big outdoor festival.
"We've talked about," Danny Winkowitsch said of attending a festival.
"We're excited," Dawn Winkowitsch said. "We bought tickets so we could be up (front)."
THE COUPLES WOULD BE CAMPING on festival grounds to take in the entire festival experience, they said.
Nearby, Rachel Smith of Hampton, gave the Rosels and Winkowitches advice about how to keep their place at the front of the crowd.
Smith said they needed to spread their elbows out to make sure no one moved between them. The older adults agreed to the advice and took another look around at the crowd.
"This is amazing," Dawn Winkowitsch said.
When Paisley finished, Tree Town organizers announced that Blake Shelton would be a headline act in 2015.