Diamond Rio among the features at weekend festival

Another top performing band, two tribute bands, the debut of an arm-wrestling tournament and a special speaker for the community church service are among the new events planned for this weekend?s Chingawassa Days festival in Marion.

Country music band Diamond Rio will be the headliner act at this year?s featured concert in Central Park at 9:15 p.m. Saturday.

The act made history in 1991 as the first group to have its debut single, ?Meet in the Middle,? reach No. 1 on the charts. Diamond Rio has sold more than 10 million albums, have nine No. 1 songs and 22 top-10 singles.

The act is a six-time ?Vocal Group of the Year? winner with the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music and has 15 consecutive CMA ?Vocal Group of the Year? nominations, more than any other band in country music history.

The group was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1998, has had 14 Grammy nominations and was the 2010 Dove Awards winner for ?Country Album of the Year.?

Chingawassa Days commit?tee member and spokeswoman Misty Hett said, ?Diamond Rio is one of the most decorated and honored bands ever booked for the festival. They are sure to provide a great night of high energy entertainment Saturday June 4.?

The Chingawassa Days Committee will ?Rock the Park? Friday June 3, featuring two of the best tribute bands in the country.

Edge of Forever ?lives and breathes Lynyrd Skynrd,? according to Hett. The band will play at 7 p.m. Following at 9 p.m., Hells Bells will present the best of the hard-rock band AC/DC.

?These are not just bands playing the great hits of Skynrd and AC/DC,? Hett said. ?These are rock shows that will rival the actual artist?s performances.?

For those interested in competition and physical challenges, Marion Wellness is sponsoring the festival?s inaugural arm-wrestling tournament beginning at 2:45 p.m. Saturday.

Tournament organizers have researched what it takes to run such a contest in an official way. It is believed to be the first formal arm-wrestling contest in the county.

Hoping to raise interest in the annnual community church service at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, planners have invited former Kansas University basketball star Wayne Simien to be the featured speaker.

Simien was a McDonald?s High School All-American at Lawrence High School before signing with the Jayhawks, where he was a part of two Final Four teams, claimed three Big XII Championships, was named Big XII Player of the Year and a two-time All-American.

Simien was drafted in the first round of the 2005 NBA Draft by the Miami Heat, and in his rookie year was part of the 2006 NBA World Championship team.

A the end of his sophomore year at KU, Simien became a born-again Christian. He now ministers through Called To Greatness as a commissioned minister, and he volunteers as KU religious adviser and mentor of student-athlete development.

For a full schedule of events for Chingawssa Days go to chingawassa.com.

Chingawassa Days admission buttons went on sale in May. Between now and this weekend, buttons will cost $35 and can be purchased with a credit card by calling 620-382-3425.

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