There's something about 51,000 young people and advisors, most of the young people in blue jackets, that's gets even tired old blood like mine pumping faster. It's a welcome break from news reports and news shows about all the bad things about kids. These kids still believe, so much so that the theme of the national convention was 'I Believe.'
I believed too. But maybe I should have turned in about 9 p.m. on Thursday night, with thoughts of speakers who had been through war and who brought positive messages to the kids, and thoughts of the Native American ceremony that celebrated how FFA and Native Americans work together, still in my head. Instead, I went to what is supposed to be a highlight of the convention, an exclusive concert for FFA members in Lucas Oil Stadium. I accompanied the local advisor and 30 of his and my closest friends, ages 14 to 18, there as a chaperone. And no, I didn't need a chaperone!
Lucas Oil Stadium may be rather quiet when the Colts paly this year, but it was rocking that night. And although this is meant in a good way, I didn't know so many redneck kids existed. Imagine 30,000 of them in one place! With their blue jackets off, they were ready for a good time.
Steel Magnolia performed first. We were sitting up high but straight across from the stage. I couldn't understand anything, but maybe that's not the point. Only later I found out that one half of the two-person group, not counting the band, was missing- drug rehab. It's not a perfect world.
Little Big Town came on, and the words were easier to understand, the cheering got louder, and the place rocked more. One student whose grandfather works in a similar facility claims they use the opening acts to fine-tune the sound. Who am I to argue?
By the time the feature entertainer, Blake Shelton, took the stage, the place was hopping. Even some adult 'chaperones' –some of them did need chaperones- were jumping up and down, trying to dance in their seats. We were four rows up, and I feared one of them was dancing so wildly they might end up down in row one, with someone needing to keep them from going over the balcony.
The kids loved the concert, and sang every word to every song, sometimes before Shelton did! I swear he sang every song he ever sang, plus a few someone else sang. It was a wild, satisfying performance, probably more so if you're a redneck kid, even if you're only redneck for one night. But our advisor was concerned when the concert dragged on to 12:30 a.m. Friday morning. Nothing like leaving a stadium with 30,000 pumped up kids, only to find out your bus taking you home got stuck half a mile away.
At least two-thirds of the kids followed directions. The other third went the wrong way, and it took half an hour to round them up. Praise the Lord in these modern times for cell phones. What did we do without them?
Well, for one thing, we didn't go to concerts with 30,000 kids, not if we were smart. But all in all, I left the Convention experience pumped up and a bit wiser. Next time I will let the kids go toward the concert, and I will double back and head for bed!