This month-long festival, which was introduced in 2016, brings dozens of rising local artists and famous performers alike to venues throughout the area. This year’s festival stood out from years’ past with a record breaking 32,000 concert goers attending the first ever Francis Field Showcase.
The two-day event, Friday Sept. 22 and Saturday Sept. 23, brought popular headliners including Lord Huron, Maggie Rogers, and Mumford & Sons who performed on a 60-foot-tall mega stage.
Through a partnership with the St. Augustine Amphitheatre, Flagler was excited to offer its students, employees, and even alumni two free tickets each for the first day of the showcase with an option to tack on a discounted ticket for the second day. More than 1,000 free tickets were claimed on campus ahead of Friday’s showcase of War Hippies, Yola, Lord Huron, and The Black Keys.
“There was a buzz that filled campus before the festival of everyone getting tickets and beginning to get pumped up to see the performers,” sophomore Sydney Preston said.
Flagler’s Student Government Association President, Olivia Davis, said before the College announced this opportunity, she didn’t think she’d be able to attend either day of the showcase.
“When my friends purchased their tickets over the summer, I wasn't planning to go because of the prices, so I was really excited to take part in this opportunity,” Davis said.
Davis is also excited about what this festival means for future students, saying she’s hopeful that events like his will continue as a way to immerse Flagler in the vibrant local culture.
“Flagler and St. Augustine are essential to each other,” Davis said. “I had such a good time at the concert and am really glad that I went. I'm looking forward to taking part in more events like this in the future.”
Senior Emily Bologa, who works as a Flagler College Ambassador, said she thinks that giving students free access to a festival of this caliber is a definite selling point for prospective students. Many students also took advantage of tacking on a discounted $75 ticket, compared to the $155 GA price, for the Saturday showcase with a lineup of S.G. Goodman, Amos Lee, Elle King, Maggie Rogers, and Mumford & Sons.
Bologa herself was eager to take advantage of the free Friday tickets, but said she wasn’t originally planning on attending Saturday’s showcase. This changed when she showed up to work at the Royal St. Augustine Golf and Country Club Saturday morning.
She was driving a beverage cart up to the second hole of the course when she said she saw a group of men with British accents “dressed up really fancy.”
“Are you guys Mumford & Sons?” Bologa asked, since she knew the band was in town.
Her suspicions were confirmed, and after snapping a picture with them, the band’s manager put Bologa and her friend on their VIP list to see the show that night.
Mumford & Sons casually enjoying a game of golf at a local course is an example of the enthusiasm the showcase artists had to be visiting St. Augustine and performing at this festival.
Friday night, Dan Auerbach, guitarist and vocalist of The Black Keys, shared a memory from his past visits to St. Augustine as a teenager and why this town is so special to him.
“When I learned open G chord, I was playing for pennies on St. George Street,” he said to the crowd during their set.
“My Uncle Ned owned Gypsy Cab Company, so I used to work here during the summers peeling onions and carrots and bussing tables,” Auerbach said in an interview with the St. Augustine Record, “… and I would take my guitar to Saint George Street and play for change.”
Soul, folk singer Amos Lee seemed equally eager to be a part of this ground-breaking festival, telling the crowd during his performance that he “hasn’t even left,” and wants to return next year.
Flagler students and community members seem to share the sentiment.
“I hope it isn’t just a once in a decade kind of thing,” St. Augustine native Sydney Abdulghani said. "I like things that bring people together and community events, and this is one of those times.”
Abdulghani attended the Mumford & Sons Gentlemen of the Road tour which brought 20,000 people to Francis Field back in 2013.
Like many others who attended, Abdulghani wants Sing Out Loud to make the Francis Field Showcase an annual event. She said she thinks it's a great way to expose out-of-towners to the charm and history of St. Augustine, “and how rad of a place it is.”