FRANKLIN TWP — Bret Michaels' homecoming performance at the Big Butler Fair Wednesday night attracted 6,000 to 7,000 thousand fans, many of them donning bandannas and cowboy hats like the Poison rock icon always does.
Michaels, who was born in Butler in 1963, brought the heat, but not because it was a humid night. Fireballs, smoke and a guitar with flames painted on were all part of his show.
The crowd raised their hands, waved lit cellphones and lighters throughout the concert.
Michaels paid homage to his hometown, and thanked family and friends for being there.
“It's good to be home!” he said.
The audience roared with approval.
During the concert, officials honored him with a key to the city from Butler Mayor Tom Donaldson, and a proclamation making the day Bret Michaels Day from Butler County Commissioner Bill McCarrier.
“I will wear my Butler flag here on out,” Michaels said. With the symbolic key, he added “Now we can go to any bar we want and party all night long!”
Michaels also played in honor of veterans, switching from a red bandanna to a black custom made cowboy hat with red, white and blue bling. Not long after, he brought his father, Wally Sychak, a Navy veteran, to the stage.
“Without him, I got nothing,” he said. “Come up here, pops!”
The set mixed some of his classic Poison hits, like “Talk Dirty to Me,” “Unskinny Bop” and “Every Rose Has It's Thorn” with more recent songs, including a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's “Sweet Home Alabama,” which is featured on his most recent album.
Ben Roenigk, vice president of the fair, said that the concert helped the fair likely set a record attendance for a Wednesday night. He also said vendors sold about $21,000 worth of beer.
“The concert was great,” Roenigk said.
He said there were no traffic or parking problems.