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Music, food and fun part of Gettysburg celebration

Music, food and fun part of Gettysburg celebration
Two-time American Country Awards winner Hunter Hayes is performing at the Gettysburg Festival June 14. (AP FILE PHOTO , Carroll County Times)

When Randy Prasse arrived as the new executive director of the Gettysburg Festival in March, most of the entertainment happenings had already been scheduled.

He was pleased with what he saw.

The 10-day Gettysburg Festival will feature a luncheon with a New York Times best-selling author, a concert by a two-time American Country Awards winner, a performance by an Army field band and a world movie premiere.

Prior to the Festival, which begins Friday, Prasse discussed with the Times the entertainment offerings, the effect of the upcoming 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg to the event and what he's looking forward to seeing.

Q: So I guess most things were set by the time you arrived?

A: For the most part, the headline main acts were done just prior to me coming on board. But they hadn't been announced. And tickets hadn't gone on sale yet. A lot of the promotion I took care of right when I first started.

Q: The festival typically has something for all genres. That's the plan, I suppose?

A: You have to be careful not to market to everyone. If you market to everyone, you are really marketing to no one. You really have to have an idea for who you are trying to attract and program that way. This is family-friendly, family-appropriate kind of entertainment. There's nothing we're doing that you couldn't take a toddler to.

Q: What's the effect of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in July?

A: It's a double-edged sword. On one hand, we tend to get lost in the 150th shuffle like everyone else. It's a big thing. It's a once-in-a-lifetime event. In some ways, we are competing for attention, certainly. But on the other hand, maybe people who wouldn't normally come to Gettysburg have us on their radar screen and will want to enjoy the festival while they are here.

Q: A look at the schedule shows that up-and-coming country musician Hunter Hayes is part of the entertainment. Excited for that?

A: Yeah, he's a big deal and certainly getting a lot of exposure through his tour with Carrie [Underwood]. He's Nashville's darling. He's been on "Dancing With The Stars" with Stevie Wonder doing a performance. He was on a couple of awards shows. He was just on "Celebrity Apprentice" with Trace Adkins. The Nashville crowd is definitely behind him.

Q: I would think he'd bring in a younger crowd?

A: You are getting the teens and you are also getting the [parents] driving the cars who are 40-something country music fans. Hunter's talented enough to carry that. ... He's our highest profile entertainment we've ever had.

Q: What else about the entertainment sticks out to you?

A: Well, Jeff Shaara, a New York Times best-selling author multiple times over, has a new book that out now. He's got some connections to Gettysburg, and he's coming June 15 to do a luncheon and lecture. It sounds formal, but it's really a good, old-fashioned picnic with fried chicken.

Q: What will he be speaking about?

A: He's going to be talking about the influence his father had on him and his love of history. He's only doing this one time, in honor of Father's Day weekend. That's something I'm really looking forward to.

Q: What else is unique to the festival?

A: The other event is Jake Boritt is debuting his film "The Gettysburg Story" at Majestic Theater on June 16. I've seen the technology and the work that he's done. Everybody's seen photos and videos of the battlefield. But what's he's done is cutting-edge technology that even a year ago wasn't available. He's deployed drones with cameras attached to them. So people are going to see the battlefield like they've never seen before.

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