Brian Dahl had hoped he’d get country music performer Toby Keith to notice his red, white and blue truck at the Tree Town Country Music Festival on May 24 and 25 in Forest City.
Keith did notice it -and in a very big way.
Keith spent about four hours on May 25 and 26 with Dahl and Dahl’s pickup after Keith’s performance on May 25.
“My goal was to get the truck signed and talk to him,” Dahl, of Mason City, said. “I never thought it would come true.”
“We spent four hours together just driving around the campground,” Dahl said.
Keith and Dahl drove the 1951 F2 Ford pickup around the Winnebago Itasca Travelers rally grounds where Tree Town attendees camped.
“He had a ball cap on and button down white shirt,” Dahl said. “He was not getting recognized.”
The lack of recognition pleased Keith and amused Dahl.
“We were just hanging out, having a few beers like a couple of good old boys,” Dahl said.
But one young man recognized Keith and asked Keith to do something he is known for. The man asked if his dad, a veteran, could meet Keith.
Keith agreed and the two men met and talked about aircraft carriers and the man’s military service.
Dahl noticed something during that time. “When (Keith) is talking to a vet, he will not hear you, hear anyone else or even see you, he is so focused on that vet,” Dahl said.
Dahl, who said he typically isn’t a quiet person, was quiet during the conversation between Keith and the vet.
“I just soaked it all in,” Dahl said.
Dahl respects Keith’s treatment of veterans. He admires that Keith has performed many concerts for veterans as part of the USO tour. Dahl also likes that Keith acknowledges veterans and the military during his performances.
Dahl has had his own increased appreciation for veterans since his cousin Josh Knowles died while serving in Iraq on Feb. 4, 2004.
Dahl bought his pickup shortly after Knowles died. He painted it red, white and blue in honor of Knowles.
The pickup got attention when Dahl parked it on Dale Heitland’s property, near Dale’s Auto Body, in Forest City on Memorial Day weekend. Dahl camped on the property while he attended Tree Town. Several members of the local National Guard unit color guard were camped near Dahl and they noticed the truck.
The pickup was also noticed as Keith and members of his crew flew over the campsite on their way to land at the Forest City Municipal Airport.
Dahl was responsible for transporting the color guard unit from the campground to the Tree Town Music Festival backstage area.
The color guard members urged Keith to meet Dahl and listen to Dahl’s story about Knowles.
Knowles got Keith’s autograph. Keith signed the driver’s side door and also signed a transparent magnetic sign that reads “In Memory of Josh Knowles.”
“I plan to give that to (Knowles’) parents,” Dahl said.
Spending an unexpected four hours with Toby Keith was “awesome.”
But, Dahl said, what’s even better is “being able to live in a country where you can do things like that.”