Macon County Chronicle

Ronnie McDowell Tractor Parade, Concert and Protest Rally Set for this Weekend

On Sunday, Aug. 10, area farmers will get a chance to show their anger at the high price of fuel - as well as at the politicians in Washington who have seemingly turned a deaf ear to their suffering - when a protest rally is held in historic Red Boiling Springs.

Curb Records recording artist Ronnie McDowell, whose recently released single, “Hey Mr. Oilman,” has struck a chord nationwide with listeners fed up with high fuel prices, will lead a parade of farm tractors, horse riders and horse-drawn wagons filled with family and friends through downtown Red Boiling Springs beginning at 2 p.m. (CDT).

McDowell will be joined by American Idol’s Diana DeGarmo, one of the stars of CMT’s hit reality show Gone Country, Nashville comedian Two-foot Fred, and world champion rodeo rider and entrepreneur Scott Lumley, owner of Nashville’s new American Basketball Association team, the Nashville Broncs. Lumley will be accompanied by the team’s dancers, the Broncs Girls.

The parade will start and end in an open field located at the intersection of Bennett Hill Road (Hwy. 56) and Old Lake Road - the former site of The Colonial Hotel - and will be immediately followed by a potluck dinner and then a free concert at 4 p.m. (CDT) featuring McDowell, DeGarmo and other celebrity performers.

The event will be held, rain or shine, as the potluck dinner and concert will be held underneath a large open-air tent.

Farmers who would like to participate are asked to pre-register by calling (615) 633-7750. There is no charge to participate, but the parade is being limited to farm tractors, horse riders and horse-drawn wagons.

“Our main focus is the farmers and folks having financial problems because of gas prices,” McDowell said. “It’s a big issue that’s effecting everyone. In my opinion, rural communities are impacted by the economy more than anybody. The rise in gas prices creates a domino effect.”

Each participant in the parade is asked to display a sign with the first line of McDowell‘s “Hey, Mr. Oilman” - “Hey, Mr. Oilman, we sure could use a break” - followed by a line expressing their own sentiment regarding high fuel prices.

Prizes, including trophies, will be awarded to the farm tractors that came the farthest distance, the oldest farm tractors and the farm tractors displaying the best signs. A prize will also be given to the oldest tractor driver.

In addition, prizes and trophies will be awarded to the horse riders and/or horse-drawn wagons that came the farthest distance and the horse riders and/or horse-drawn wagons displaying the best signs. Prizes will also be given to the youngest and oldest riders.
The parade will travel through downtown Red Boiling Springs on Market Street, past Macon Bank & Trust, and follow East Main Street (Hwy. 151) to Witcher Hollow Road, where it will turn around and return to the starting point. Spectators are encouraged to line up along the parade route and show their support.

Everyone attending the protest rally, including spectators not participating in the parade, is asked to bring a covered dish for the potluck meal, which will begin promptly after the parade ends.

The free concert will begin at 4 p.m. The video for McDowell’s “Hey, Mr. Oilman,“ which was recently shot on location in McDowell’s hometown of Portland, Tenn., and at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge in downtown Nashville, will be shown. Jay Jackson, who portrayed “Mr. Oilman” in the video, will make a special appearance.

Anyone planning to attend the free concert should bring their own lawn chairs and/or blankets.

Hoping to send a message to the oil industry, McDowell is optimistic about the rally, which will be receiving national attention.
Phil Valentine, the Author and Nationally Syndicated Talk Show host will be bringing his restored 1985 Mercedes 300D Turbodiesel named Bennie the Bio-Benz.

Bennie runs on bio-diesel. Bio-diesel is when you mix vegetable oil, either from a restaurant or virgin oil, with methanol. The result is a diesel fuel that runs much cleaner than petroleum diesel and is much kinder to the engine because of its lubrication qualities.

The much talked about Bennie the Bio-Benz will take part in the Parade at the Gas Rally and Protest in Red Boiling Springs.

“I look forward to showing Bennie off in a great historic town like Red Boiling Springs,” Valentine said. “It’s time that everyone comes together and fights back against these outrageous gas prices.”

Valentine is a nationally syndicated talk show host heard on 60 great stations daily on Westwood One. Phil can be heard locally 4-8 PM on Supertalk 99.7 WTN. Phil is a much acclaimed author with his latest book set for release in September called “The Conservative’s Handbook” other titles include “Right From the Heart”, and “Tax Revolt.”

McDowell, whose song is the inspiration behind the rally, said the lyrics to “Hey, Mr. Oilman” came to him all at once.

“I woke up one day five weeks ago and the song just poured out,” he said. “Words and a melody can be a very powerful thing. In my opinion, everything starts with a song. I truly believe in the magic of a song. You never know, someone in the oil industry might hear the song and hear about the protest rally, and well . . . it just might make a difference.”

The Portland Progressive and the Macon County Chronicle are supporters of the protest rally. Other supporters will be announced at a later date.

Out-of-town attendees are being encouraged to come to Red Boiling Springs a day or two early and stay overnight in one of the city’s historic hotels, all of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places:

* Armour’s Hotel, located at 321 E. Main St., offers individually decorated rooms with a full country breakfast included in the room price. It is the only facility in Tennessee that offers a mineral bathhouse. The telephone number is (615) 699-2180.

* The Thomas House, located at 520 E. Main St., offers 14 individually decorated rooms and home-cooked meals served family-style in a spacious 150-seat dining room. The telephone number is (615) 699-3006.

* The Donoho Hotel, located at 500 E. Main St., features 37 guest rooms – including one handicapped-accessible room – and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner by reservation in its 128-seat dining room The telephone number is (615) 699-3141.

In addition, free camping will be available at the event site on the banks of the Salt Lick Creek. However, there is no electric, water or sewer hookup available. Portable toilets will be located on site.

For more information about the protest rally, or to pre-register for the parade, call John Cook at (615) 633-7750.