GOODLAND — Midway through Sunday afternoon, a deluge arrived, joining the hundreds of revelers who came to partake of the goodtime fun and remember the man who wasn't there.
Ryan Darling and the Jeff Hilts Band played Stevie Ray Vaughn's "Cold Shot," but another Vaughn blues number, "The Sky is Crying," better described the scene. Patrons – the ones who didn't flee when the heavens opened – huddled under the awnings and covered areas, and the band took a break as the lightning crashed nearby.
But people come to Stan's to have fun, and didn't let a little rain get in the way. Carla Upham, 8, got out on the dance floor when the musicians came back, and "I Love a Rainy Night" brought out more and more dancers, doffing their shoes and splashing with abandon in the cool water underfoot.
Steve Gober, Stan's youngest son, now in the position of owner/manager, said Stan's is still Stan's.
"We're not going to replace him – we can't. But we are not changing this place. That would be the biggest mistake I ever made," said Steve. "We will have a few new bands." Next weekend, the Fakahatchee band out of Naples will headline, he said. For the month of October, Stan's will be open only on weekends, before going to six days a week. They will be closed on Mondays, presumably to allow their regulars to recuperate from the regular Sunday afternoon blowout.
With three of Stan's sons involved in the restaurant, and all four of Steve's sons, the operation will remain a family business. "I kicked the show off, and we did the Star Spangled Banner," in keeping with the patriotism which was about the only thing Stan Gober took seriously.
Sunday afternoon, three of Steve's sons, Michael, 21, and twins Ryan and Dylan, 19, were all helping out. The youngest, Zach, 16, was missing after getting roughed up on the football field.
"He's playing quarterback for Lely, even though he should be on the JV squad," said Steve. "He weighs 160, and these two 280-lb. linemen sandwiched him."
"Queen" Mary Martin, a fixture at Stan's for many years, said she would miss Stan.
"No one could replace him," she said, sitting onstage with her bra tucked full of dollar bills. She noted that she has been designated "Queen of the Decade," and therefore no longer to compete in the Buzzard Lope contest, which will of course be back at the annual Mullet Festival, scheduled for the weekend before the Super Bowl.
Capt. Ray Yerich insisted on taking a visitor inside the restaurant to see a photo of him with Stan, right above a picture of Stan with Willie Nelson. "He was well-loved. He's gonna be sorely missed," said Yerich. But like everyone else on hand, he seemed to be having a good time.
"It's always a great day in Goodland," said Kevin Donlan of Marco. He was unfazed by the rain dripping on him through the boards of the balcony above. "The music's great – it's all Goodland."
The Little Bar just down the street also reopened over the weekend, so as the weather cools down, the live music and party scene is picking up.