Last updated: May 27. 2014 12:53PM - 560 Views

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As you are reading this, there is a very good chance that Erin Smith is pulling her hair out in clumps. But I sincerely hope not.

Y’all know Erin as the longtime reporter for the Bladen Journal. She is your contact for obituaries, calendar items, church events, lifestyles items like weddings, engagements, birthdays and more. She also handles a lot of the feature stories, community photos and covers local meetings as time and hours permit.

Erin does NOT do sports. Period.

I know Erin as my right-hand man … or, in the PC world, right-hand person. And at this very moment, only my right hand is steering the Bladen Journal through the next four days. Sports is part of that navigation, which could be a serious challenge for Erin.

The root reason for Erin pulling her hair out by the roots is that I am currently in Nashville, Tenn. While it’s the closest thing I have come to a vacation in a few years, it’s not really falling into the vacation category for me.

That’s because I am attending the KLOV Fan Awards Weekend with media credentials. So I feel that it’s rather incumbent upon me to cover the event as best I can for those Bladen Journal readers who are KLOV fans — and I know there are many, including my every-other-month Savannah-bound van-mates.

The very fact that I have media credentials to the second annual Fan Awards Weekend is in and of itself remarkable.

I applied for the passes last year, when the event was debuting at the Ryman Auditorium. At the time, I didn’t give myself a snowball’s chance in H-E-double-toothpicks of success. Not because the Ryman is a pretty small place, but because, let’s face it, the Bladen Journal doesn’t really inject folks used to dealing with media outlets across the country with a need to approve a media credential request without some serious consideration.

So, I filed my request and then waited for the sympathetic denial.

It came about two weeks later … kind of.

Rather than an outright “thanks, but we’re sorry to inform you …,” the email stated that, because of the size of the Ryman, media credentials were being limited to a Red Carpet Event only. Well, suddenly, I felt almost important. Instead of a simple “no,” I received the same opportunity as any other media outlet wanting to cover the initial event.

But I passed. I just couldn’t justify the 1,142-mile round-trip to cover a Red Carpet Event.

Then, a couple of months ago, I heard that KLOV was going to hold this year’s Fan Awards Weekend at the Grand Ol’ Opry complex, a much-larger facility. And not only would there be the same events as last year, but additional ones are planned. So on top of the Sunday morning worship service led by Michael W. Smith, the Red Carpet Event and Fan Awards show, there will also be a free Weekend Kickoff Concert Friday night featuring Tenth Avenue North, For King & Country, Switchfoot and others; a Fan Zone featuring meet and greets with many of the KLOV artists, sports activities for children of all ages and merchandise sales; along with a Songwriters’ Spotlight hosted by Stephen Curtis Chapman — all in the Opryland Resort.

Cool stuff, indeed. And somehow, I was approved for media credentials to the entire weekend’s events.

Now, while the schedule will keep me grounded and pointed in a specific direction all weekend long, there is a chance for me to jump off the path and take an opportunity to talk with a few KLOV artists of choice. At the top of my list is Francesca Battistelli. I recently became a huge fan of her voice when I first heard her newest song, “Write Your Story.” That one just spoke to me.

But there will hopefully be others, like the threesome from “American Idol” — Mandisa, Danny Gokey and Colton Dixon. All three will be there, and it’d be awesome to have the chance to chat with them.

On top of all this KLOV coolness, there is an even bigger reason for me why this trip will be rewarding. My daughter and her family live just a handful of miles outside Nashville, and I will be be staying with them.

It’s been a year since I’ve seen them all, and their adorable 3-year-old daughter Ava has since turned 4 and become an actual little person with a sweet personality, the cutest little voice you’ve ever heard and a couple of the bluest young eyes possible.

And, of course, it will be so good to see Ava’s parents, Shannon and Andrew.

So while Erin slowly goes bald over the next few days, I will be 571 miles away physically — but 257 million miles away spiritually and emotionally. I will, however, be back on Tuesday. I promise.

W. Curt Vincent is the general manager/editor of the Bladen Journal. He can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or by email at cvincent@civitasmedia.com.

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