Hunter Hayes headlines Citadel Palooza event in Pottstown; local talent also performing

SUBMITTED PHOTO
Jess Zimmerman fronts the Jess Zimmerman Band Oct. 7 at Citadel Palooza.
Jess Zimmerman fronts the Jess Zimmerman Band Oct. 7 at Citadel Palooza. SUBMITTED PHOTO

IF YOU GO

What: Citadel Palooza.

When: Oct. 7. The event will start at 1:30 p.m. and will last until at least 9:30.

Where: Memorial Park, 75 W. King St., Pottstown.

Tickets: $25 (first-come-first-served lawn seating), $50 for VIP tickets.

Info.: www.citadelpalooza.com.

Memorial Park will be the site for the inaugural “Citadel Palooza” festival to benefit Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Children’s Miracle Network.

Marking its 80th anniversary as a financial institution, Citadel presents the Oct. 7 family-friendly event, which will feature local food trucks, a Sly Fox Beer Garden, and a set by 26-year-old country singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, Grammy nominee and former CMA New Artist of the Year Hunter Hayes.

“I think it’s going to be a great community day,” said Citadel senior vice-president Mike Schnably.

There’s a lineup of rising country talent scheduled to take stage before Hayes, and warm-up act Carter Winter, featuring three acts from the region that were the top vote-getters in a Citadel online poll. According to Schnably, Citadel accepted 15 qualifying acts, narrowed it down to five finalists for the online voting, and was originally going to put the top two in the concert. However, he said, the number of votes separating the top three finalists was so close that they decided to expand it to three local acts — The Jess Zimmerman Band, whose members reside in Chester, Montgomery and Lancaster counties; Dougalssville’s Stephanie Grace; and Pottstown singer, actress and writer Kendal Conrad.

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A graduate of Ursinus College, one of Conrad’s many career highlights is singing a duet with Keith Urban on stage at Musikfest, which was then featured on his website as one of his favorite “Raise ‘Em Up” Tour moments. She even has an endorsement deal with Corral Boots.

“When they announced (Citadel Palooza), my news feed blew up. ‘Memorial Park, Pottstown?!’ When I was in high school you weren’t cool if you listened to country. So that everybody’s freaking out about it — it kind of makes me laugh and smile,” she said.

Known for her anti-bullying single “Loser,” Grace said: “I met Hunter Hayes in Nashville about five years ago, and he was one of the sweetest human beings. I put it on my bucket list to open up for him.” She’s already been an opening act for Taylor Swift, John Michael Montgomery, Charlie Daniels Band, Brothers Osborne and others.

“That it’s for a such a great cause makes it even more exciting,” she said of CHOP and Children’s Miracle Network.

A little more than two years removed from graduating high school, and with a bucket-list goal scheduled to be met Oct. 7, what else is on Grace’s bucket list? “Maybe appearing on the Grand Ole Opry,” she said.

Currently touring to promote the Jess Zimmerman Band’s self-titled, Nashville-recorded EP, Zimmerman said she’ll tell the stories behind her songs during acoustic shows, but not when the band’s playing in a festival environment like Citadel Palooza. Taking an opportunity to talk about one of the new songs, “(the song) ‘90 Proof’ was about a relationship I was in, and the person I was with, and struggles with alcohol and the vicious cycle to understand why, in the end, we’re always lonely,” she said.

Zimmerman cried when she found out she and her band had made the cut. “I was saying to the guys: ‘That’s a realization moment — the fate of your career relies on other people’,” she said.

Originally incorporated in 1937 as a part of Coatesville’s Lukens Steel Co., Citadel provides personal, home and auto loans, certificates, credit and debit cards, reward checking accounts, and online banking services. Citadel serves Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. Schnably said that the credit union’s people-helping-people philosophy includes actively supporting the United Way and presenting Citadel Heart of Learning Awards to “teachers with heart” in Chester County.