By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer
Willie Nelson promoters and Eastern New Mexico University concert coordinators enjoyed a crowd of more than 1,500 people in the ballroom of the Campus Union Building on the ENMU campus.
Approximately 1,568 people showed up to the concert to listen to Nelson and his friend Billy Joe Shaver put on a show for more than three hours on Wednesday night. Nelson had previously been in concert in Portales more than 20 years ago.
“We had an absolute ball,” Nelson promoter Bruce Williams said. “There was a great crowd. Willie’s band said that campus is one of the most beautiful campuses they have seen.”
The concert was put together with the help of Williams, Will Kayatin, director of the Office of Student Activities and Organizations and ENMU volunteers.
“Will (Kayatin) did a fantastic job,” Williams said. “I’ve dealt with staffs for more than 25 years and that staff is as good as any. He (Kayatin) did a fantastic job with the staff at ENMU. A special thanks to (ENMU President) Dr. (Steven) Gamble and Will Kayatin. We appreciate everyone coming out to support Willie.”
Gamble, along with members of the ENMU Board of Regents, sat amongst the audience and watched the performance.
“I thought the execution of it was pretty much perfect once he got here,” Gamble said. “There was some concern over seating arrangements, and how it was impacting ticket sales, but Willie Nelson’s people were really good to work with.”
Gamble thought that Shaver was an excellent opening act and was “happy and flattered” with the way the concert showcased the university.
“I hope we’re getting a reputation as a place where the artist can come and have a good time and be appreciated,” Gamble said.
Kayatin previously stated that he appreciated all the ENMU students who volunteered. Kayatin also said he and ASAB organization members contacted the New Mexico State Police, Portales Police Department and Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department about police officers for the event.
Kayatin could not be reached for comment on Thursday.