RANGELEY — Nearly 1,500 fans braved showers and ominous rumbles of thunder Saturday to see Grammy award-winner and Grand Ole Opry legend Travis Tritt and his band.

The lines outside the gates formed by mid-afternoon at the Rangeley Region Health Center on Dallas Hill. The center’s fitness director Jeff Hawksley welcomed the crowds.

“Our mission is to support the health of our community, and we really appreciate you coming,” he said.

The major fundraiser of the year did not happen without help. Dozens of local business in Franklin County sponsored the event. Part of the fun included a raffle for a guitar signed by Tritt.

Gina Aube Guimond traveled with her family from Lewiston to see the concert, and they all waited eagerly as the opening bands, the Mallett Brothers and the L-A Harley Band, warmed up the audience. Standing as close to the rope line as the volunteer staffers would allow, she whooped excitedly when the band came on stage to warm up.

“I’ve seen Travis seven times,” she said. “He’s just a great musician, and I love every song he’s done”

Jeanne Thorvaldsen, the center’s director of administration, said the volunteers have made the concerts a success each year. Nearly 100 volunteers, many wearing bright blue STAFF shirts, welcomed concert-goers, answered dozens of questions, gave directions and kept the crowds in good spirits as the mist turned to drizzle.

The Rangeley Region Health Center opened nearly 20 years ago and brought long-term, professional primary care to the community. In 1997, summer resident Willy Oppenheim suffered a severe burn injury. At that time there were no rehabilitation services available in Rangeley. Later that year, the Willy Oppenheim Physical Rehabilitation Fund was established to initiate fundraising efforts for the Rangeley Region Physical Rehab and Wellness Pavilion.

“Today, it’s a first-class wellness center,” Thorvaldsen said. “Through generous support from the community and the dedication of our volunteers, we continue our mission to provide much-needed services to this rural area.”

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