ROANOKE RAPIDS — The Roanoke Valley Chamber of Commerce held its first The Avenue Beat at Centennial Park Friday evening featuring Wild Country.

The event was sponsored by Halifax Electric Membership Corporation, Roanoke Electric Cooperative and WestRock to bring the Roanoke Rapids country band to the park, said Chamber President and CEO Ginny Lewis. The event will kick off again on Aug. 27, and another starting in the spring, Lewis said.

“We’re really pleased with the turnout today and with it being the first event, and as word gets out, we’re really excited that it’s just going to grow,” she said. “But this is what we’re doing it for, just to come out and have some free entertainment. Bring the kids and just let them have fun.”

Several people showed up to the event — popping up a chair to listen to live music, joining the line dance, slow dancing with a partner, watching the kids run and play, or enjoying a hot dog from the vendor.

Lead Singer Charlie Jenkins of Wild Country brought his 6-year-old son Jackson Clay Jenkins up onto the stage of the gazebo to join the crew in singing “Wagon Wheel.”

Charlie said he himself was 8 years old when he started performing at Lakeland Cultural Arts Center in Littleton, which Friday marked his son’s fourth time singing with the band.

“He’s kind of nervous a little bit, but he’s doing really good building the confidence,” he said. “He looks up at me a lot and says, ‘Am I doing OK?’ And I’m like, ‘You’re doing just fine, buddy.’ He’s doing very, very well, and I hope he continues.”

Charlie said Wild Country began in 2013 in his garage with him as a drummer and singer, but he ended up working for the railroad company and that took up most of his time. He said one of the original band members, Tim Pleasant, decided to help his son in Nashville, Tennessee, get a music break. With Pleasant spending most of his time with his son in Nashville, Wild Country needed some help, which Charlie said was good timing.

“We’re all back together and glad the ‘Rona’ [coronavirus] is leaving, and we can get back out and play some more,” he said.

Dating for nearly two years, Renee Little and John Briggs were dancing to the band’s music.

“Wild Country is the best band, and if they could do this more often, it would be wonderful,” Little said. “People need to get out and dance and meet with people they haven’t seen. It’s great.”