ROCKINGHAM — As the economic impact from last weekend’s inaugural Epicenter Festival is still being calculated, it’s apparent it wasn’t just the fans contributing.
Several of the bands stopped by local businesses to grab a bite to eat.
Although she didn’t realize who they were at first, Jonna Carter spotted members of the iconic heavy metal band Judas Priest at Dairy Queen.
The band, fronted by Rob Halford, was scheduled to play Saturday night between The Cult and Tool, but the threat of severe weather in the afternoon led to the rest of the day’s events being canceled.
Judas Priest hunkered down at DQ, riding the storm out.
“The band was super nice and comical,” she said.
The band even tweeted about their visit.
“Metal Mother Nature took control at The Epicenter Festival in Rockingham and for all of the Band’S fans, crews and staff safety came first,” read the Twitter post. “If you saw our live instagram feed you would have seen us at a local DQ taking shelter for two hours as we couldn’t get on the site as roads were closed with everything under a severe code red alert – There was considerable storm damage to stages & equipment – thankfully no one was injured – Judas Priest send our best Metal thoughts & love for our fans & look ahead to when the Priest will be back!”
Carter had her photo taken with bassist Ian Hill, who formed the band nearly 50 years ago with original guitarist K.K. Downing. She also posted a photo of drummer Scott Travis.
Earlier on Saturday, Arrested Youth (stage name of alternative singer/songwriter Ian Johnson) and the band stopped by Half Baked on Long Drive.
“It was fun!” said owner Melissa Newton. “We knew they weren’t regulars, so we asked if they were in town for the weekend. They introduced themselves. This was their first festival, so they were excited.”
According to his bio, Johnson began writing songs at the age of 15, but took a break from music to attend college. However, he returned to the music industry after a short, unfulfilling stint with Anheuser-Busch.
Arrested Youth was one of the first few bands to perform on Friday.
Newton posed for a photo with the band and posted it on the Half Baked Facebook page.
“We wished them lots of success!” she said. “Nice, friendly guys and open to taking pictures.”