It was the first of what organizers hope will become an annual event. The Country Life Outdoor Festival at the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds played to large crowds this past weekend in spite of the rain during part of the time.

Festival Coordinator Nick Simonds deemed it a success, with 3,500 people alone braving the rain to attend Saturday’s activities and many more on hand Sunday with much more cooperative weather. Simonds definition of success: “When they (attendees) leave they say ‘Wow that was better than I expected’.”

There was a lot going on all three days to please festival goers of all ages. In the show arena the Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show was a popular attraction. On another section of the fairgrounds the highflying Ultimate Air Dogs showed their diving prowess. The sound of the chainsaw carver could be heard all over the fairgrounds. And retrievers chomping at the bit for the start of hunting season showed they are more than ready.

The new auditorium was filled with a display from the Maryland Trophy Deer Contest. The old auditorium was transformed into a Kids Zone with sandboxes and games for the kids.

Throughout the three days there were ongoing lectures on topics of interest to outdoorsmen. And several of the buildings were filled with vendors selling supplies for them.

One of the most popular features of the festival involved free food; who doesn’t love free food. The Park’s Finest truck was dispensing samples of three of the new varieties of the latest premium Park’s Ball Park brand hot dogs, called Park’s Finest.

The truck is traveling up and down the East Coast giving out samples and also participating in the Discovery Channel’s American Finest Grill Master contest. Festival attendees could enter the contest to win the grill on display by posing in front of it and submitting the photo and caption via Instagram.

The Finest Grill that was on display is a fully customized, American themed grill that sits atop a 19-foot- long trailer and is equipped with beer taps, a wireless sound system, condiment station, custom seating for eight and a double-wide gas grill.

Other food, wine and craft beer were also available throughout the festival.

And, several bands entertained, including True Blue Country, John Luskey Band, California Ramblers and Roadhouse Band.

The event was sponsored by the Winegardner Auto Group.