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‘Rock the Red’ draws conservatives

WEDDINGTON Sitting on bales of hay under a clear night sky, a few hundred conservative supporters found a quiet alternative to the rush of the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night.

The “Rock the Red 2012” festival, held on a Weddington farm, went on into the night with live country music and speakers trumpeting family values, U.S. service men and women and America’s energy independence.

“There’s a little bit of family, a little bit of God, a little bit of music and a little bit of an alternative voice,” said Jason Lambert, a Rock the Red organizer.

Howard Hodge, 71, of Great Falls, S.C., liked the alternative voice. He added that “everything that has gone on in the past four years has been negative.”

Hodge sat on a bale of hay under a large white tent as 16-year-old Madeleine McAulay addressed the audience from the festival’s small stage.

McAulay, a home-schooled Charlottean, said she comes from a family of small business owners and veterans. While others her age might worry about what they’re wearing or who they hang around with, McAulay said she’s worried about the national debt, which just passed $16 trillion.

“I’m the one that’s going to pay that off,” she said. “I’m not too thrilled about that.”

Maricopa, Ariz., sheriff Joe Arpaio, known for his hard-nosed stands on crime and illegal immigration, also spoke at the event.

The conservative festival was originally planned for the 11,000-seat Bojangles’ Coliseum. A spokesperson for the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, which manages the coliseum, said festival organizers did not meet financial requirements.

But Rock the Red representatives blamed Ticketmaster for not properly promoting the event.

Either way, Lambert said the celebration, which drew members of the Heritage Foundation and the Family Research Council, was a success.

“Considering we had five days to redo the event, we had a great turnout,” said John Steward, Union County Republican chairman. “The message is North Carolina conservatives are fired up to get to November. We’re going to crawl across broken glass to vote.”

April Bethea contributed.

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