Two days after his Perryville appearance Chris Janson said he was proud to be from this area and was grateful for the hometown welcome.
“This show was a really special experience," Janson said in a prepared statement. "I’m very proud to be from Perryville and very thankful for being raised there. It was great to have the community’s support – I had no idea I had so much! The crowd welcomed me in like only a hometown crowd can. And then getting the key to the city? Man, that was the craziest, best surprise! I was definitely humbled by old friends, new friends and everybody in between. It was extra special to have some of my very close hometown buddies, who were pivotal in getting me started in music, up on stage with me. It was just incredible!”
The key in the shape of a guitar was designed by Jared Cochran of Speed Fabrication.
Giving the key to the city was something Perryville officials came up with as a way to celebrate Janson's accomplishments, according to city administrator Brent Buerck.
Prior to Baer presenting Janson with the key, the county commissioners gave Janson a commemorative frame with a photo and tickets from Sunday's concert.
While thunderstorms prevented the opening act from starting the show, there wasn't any doubt the show take place, according to Trish Erzfeld, director of Perry County Heritage Tourism.
"Chris made it very clear the show would go on despite the rain," Erzfeld said. "This concert was just as important to him as it was to us."
The planning and coordinated efforts to work out all the details for the bicentennial concert paid off, according to Erzfeld.
"This was most likely the biggest community event planned in our county involving multiple non-profit organizations," Erzfeld said. "Most of the time when our community comes together like this it was because of a flood or tornado or other natural disaster but this was a celebration and it was enjoyed by all ages."
Much was learned and Sunday's event could lead to additional concerts in the future, Erzfeld said.
"I think it was a very good learning experience for bringing musical events here to Perryville and I think there will be more opportunity for that in the future," Erzfeld said.
"We are simply in awe of the success of Perry County’s Bicentennial concert," said Perry County Clerk Jared Kutz. "The crowd was inspiring, the show was amazing and the fireworks going while Chris was still playing was epic."
Several entities were involved with making the end product a success, according to Kutz.
"The list of folks to thank for making this event possible is long, but heartfelt appreciation to the Seminary Picnic Committee, the East Perry Fair Board, the Heartland Social Club and our local law enforcement, firefighters and emergency personnel. We also appreciate the American Legion Post 133 Color Guard, Jesse Kinnison, Hoeckele's, Mike Zahner and Zahner and Associates, the Perry Park Center staff and City of Perryville Public Works Department and the St. Vincent Student Council and students who cleaned up after the event," Kutz said. "We are fortunate to have organizations and people like these who serve our community every day and without them this event would simply have been an idea."
Kutz also credited the work of Erzfeld of Perry County Heritage Tourism as well as Amanda Layton at the county level.
In total, the bicentennial concert was a "night we will remember for years to come," Kutz said.