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Country Thunder Florida day one kicks off with Cody Johnson, Parker McCollum, & more

Country Thunder Florida

Osceola Heritage Park

Kissimmee, Florida

Oct. 20th, 2023

By Dave Parsons


Country Thunder is a music festival brand that hosted six concert festivals in North America this year.   The weekend of October 20-22, the festival took place in Kissimmee, Florida, at Oceola Heritage Park.

Day one of the Country Thunder Florida festival 2023 was headlined by former rodeo rider turned country music hit-maker, Cody Johnson.  Johnson took the crowd through 90 minutes of his hits including “’Til You Can’t”, “On My Way To You”, and “Nothin’ On You”, Johnson has a stage presence that will remind you of Garth Brooks or Chris LeDoux, but he is very much his own performer.  Setting up mic stands at 3 different intervals down the long catwalk, Johnson moved between them constantly, giving the folks down front, as well as those further back, the most diverse stage show of the day.

Parker McCullom had the 8 PM time slot, and brought the crowd into a frenzy with his multiple hits and boyish charm. The crowd sang along to hits like “Meet You In The Middle”, “Burn It Down”, and “To Be Loved By You.”  Even on the lesser known hits, the crowd seemed to know every word and sang along, giving proof why McCullom is one of the fastest rising stars in country music.

Veteran performer JoDee Messina gets the trophy for “Gutsiest entertainer of the day.”  Explaining she was getting over respiratory issues, Messina ripped through a string of her hits including “My Give A Damn’s Busted”, “Bye Bye”, “Lesson In Leaving” and “Heads Carolina, Tails California” before she started having vocal issues. After asking for requests from the audience, Messina and her band filled quite a few including “Swee t Caroline” before Messina rather abruptly called and end to the night and left the stage.  In an age were artists are known to cancel at the last minute, Messina gave it all she had and made sure she got all the hits in the performance before losing the battle with her voice for the night.

Country singer-songwriter Shane Profitt preceded Messina on stage, giving the crowd an hour of songs he wrote about his own life, or the lives of his family and friends. Songs like “How It Oughta Be”, “Still Picks Up” and “Better Off Fishin’” are anthems of the folks who filled the park grounds,  Profitt thanked the crowd twice for their backing of his music, and stated with wonder how he went from playing the pre-show for this festival last year to being on the main stage this year.  Judging from the crowd’s reaction, it will not be his last time on a festival stage lineup.

Canadian singer Josh Ross was on the stage in the early afternoon on Friday and delivered a nice set of his original music that the crowd seemed to know the words to by heart.  A set that included his charted songs “First Taste of Gone”, “On A Different Night” and “Trouble” kept the crowd entertained for his 60 minutes on the stage.

First time Country Thunder performer, and Orlando, Florida hometown girl, Charly Reynolds kicked off the Friday performances.  She responded immediately to a sign asking for her song “Got The Picture”, and added in her well known songs “Rodeo”, “Bs I Need”, and “Neon Moon”, which was recently featured in a recent TV show.  For the sparce crowd finding its way into the show area at 2:00 on a Friday afternoon, Reynolds gave it all she had for the folks who had found their way to the festival early.

Some 9 hours later, the crowd filed out of the park, headed either home or back to their campers, with Saturday’s show starting in 14 hours.



Photo Gallery : Charly Renolds – Country Thunder Florida (10.20.2023)


Photo Gallery : Josh Ross – Country Thunder Florida (10.20.2023)


Photo Gallery : Shane Profitt – Country Thunder Florida (10.20.2023)


Photo Gallery : JoDee Messina – Country Thunder Florida (10.20.2023)


Photo Gallery : Parker McCollum – Country Thunder Florida (10.20.2023)


Photo Gallery : Cody Johnson – Country Thunder Florida (10.20.2023)

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