“Jump in Them Wranglers”
& get ready for the 2024
Vidalia Onion Festival
Jump in those Wranglers and buckle up for a wild 2024 Vidalia Onion Festival! The 2024 edition of the Vidalia Sweet Onion Festival will run April 25-28 with lots of fun and entertainment for everyone.
The Vidalia Sweet Onion Festival Committee has been hard at work planning next year’s festival which will include the return visit of the Blue Angels to the world famous Onion Air Show and country music artist Lauren Alaina has been confirmed as headliner of the festival’s concert according to Committee Chairman Jake Cleghorn. continued from page
Blue Angel #7 touched down on the Vidalia Regional Airport runways on Wednesday morning, November 29. Blue Angel #7 Pilot/Narrator Lieutenant Connor O’Donnell and Events Coordinator Lieutenant Commander Brian Vaught made their preseason visit with the Onion Festival Committee to ensure that all provisions are in place for a safe and successful air show.
“We do winter visits –- in November and December mostly –- and we visit all 32 show sites that we will perform at during the 2024 show season,” O’Donnell explained. “These visits are all about building connections and laying the groundwork. We want a safe air show and part of that is just starting the preparation early, so that’s why we’re here.”
The Angels also shared that the Vidalia Onion Festival Air Show is the only show site chosen in Georgia this year. “We were here last in 2022 and we had an absolute blast, so we’re coming back in 2024! Thank you guys for having us,” Vaught emphasized.
“I’m new this year –- it changes every year. It’s my first year of a 3-year tour as the narrator, #7 pilot, and key influencer of the show,” O’Donnell commented.
Vaught added, “I’ve always heard great things about Vidalia and have probably been to some surrounding areas –- it’s a beautiful state you guys have. Hopefully, we’ll make it a tradition and keep coming back.”
The duo also spoke on the mission of the Blue Angels demonstration. “We want to inspire the next generation of service members across the country,” O’Donnell remarked. “We also have the honor of representing the men and women of both the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, which is about 800,000 both active duty and reserve. We are the lucky few who get to go all around the country doing air shows, and hopefully making them all proud.”
To be selected for the Blue Angels is a tedious process, as the men explained that they had to apply and be chosen for their positions. “I’ve been in the Navy now for around 13 years, and most of our team are pretty seasoned aviators,” Vaught shared. “Really, I saw that [the Blue Angels] was something that was really awesome and inspired me, so I applied, and kind of like any job, I went out there and tried to get it. So, if you see something you want, go for it, because we did it and were lucky enough to get this.”
Along with the seven F-18 jets and pilots, The Blue Angels support team consisting of 60 Navy and Marine Corps crew members will arrive onboard the group’s C-130J cargo aircraft known as “Fat Albert” to assure the air show is a successful event.
For the 2024 festival, Georgia’s own country sensation and Grand Ole Opry member Lauren Alaina will headline the annual Friday night festival concert. The multi-platinum artist Lauren Alaina is all set to dazzle with an unforgettable performance, featuring her new single at country radio “Thick As Thieves” and selections from her newly released EP, Unlocked.
The gold-medal vocalist has shared the stage with Alan Jackson, Blake Shelton, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Martina Mc-Bride, and Jason Aldean. She has performed on some of the highest-profile stages in the world including PBS’ A Capitol Fourth, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, CBS’ Beyond The Edge, TODAY, Good Morning America, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Tonight Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, ABC’s CMA Fest specials, CMA and ACM Awards, Nickelodeon’s All That, Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day halftime performance, MLB’s World Series national anthem performance, a performance at the White House for President Obama Fellow Georgia natives RVSHVD and Austin Snell will also be taking the stage for Friday night’s onion concert event.
From the very very small town of Willacoochee, GA, 25 year-old RVSHVD (pronounced RA-SHAD) started making music ten years ago. He initially thought hip-hop and R& B were going to be his musical path until he jumped genres after hearing “Sweet Thing” by Keith Urban. He credits Florida Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan George Strait, Alan Jackson, and Brooks & Dunn as his ultimate musical influences.
With the help of a signature vocal tone, his home studio, and a viral TikTok video, RVSHVD became nationally recognized for his country version of Roddy Ricch’s “Ballin.” The song went viral on Spotify, TikTok, Apple and YouTube amassing over 25M streams while upliftcontinued from page
ing his catalog of songs to over 100M streams.
A native of small town Dudley, Georgia, Austin Snell grew up in a family environment with a modern rock-loving father and a mother drawn to country radio. It wasn’t until joining the Air Force that music became a passion.
Nineteen years old, 1,000 miles from home and alone for the first time, he passed the long evenings with a cheap acoustic guitar, belting out the same tunes he grew up on with a few clumsy chords. Austin will be sharing his hits “Muddy Water Rockstar”, “Send You the Bill” and “Pray All the Way Home” with the onion festival crowd.
Vidalia Onion Festival Committee Chairman Jake Cleghorn spoke about the anticipated economic impact that the 2024 Festival will have on the area.
“A typical year for us with just a regular concert and festival, we would see an influx of maybe 10,000 people into the town, but we could see 20,000+ people come into town for the air show,” he emphasized. “It significantly doubles, if not triples, the amount of people we pull in from out of town and people in town that come to take part in the events going on.”
Cleghorn said, “We’ve had several studies done through the years, and on an air show year with the Blue Angels, it could be well over a $1 million impact on the economy just for that week for the city of Vidalia and surrounding communities. All the motels will be full; restaurants will be full here and in surrounding communities. It brings a lot of exposure for our town and downtown shops.”
“We’re excited for people to be able to see what is coming in the Spring,” he emphasized. “We’ve already received texts about people seeing [Blue Angel 7] fly over, and that’s just what we want – we want people’s eyes to be opened and to see what all will be coming for the festival this year. This community is very familiar with the Blue Angels and what they bring, but to see the respect from our community – people showing up in awe of the equipment and this group and their talents and abilities and what it stands for our country – it’s exciting to begin that momentum.”