Country music festival coming to Kent County

On Thursday, Chicago-based Red Frog Events, the producers of the annual Firefly Music Festival in Dover, in partnership with Stagecoach, a California country music festival, announced the Big Barrel County Music Festival will take place at The Woodlands of Dover International Speedway from June 26 through 28, the weekend after next year’s Firefly.

This announcement comes on the heels of national promoter Live Nation and Sussex County-based Highway One’s announcement of the headliners for the Delaware Junction Country Music Festival slated for the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington from Aug. 14 through 16.

Tickets for the Harrington festival go on sale at 10 a.m. today while tickets for Big Barrel went on sale Thursday, hours after the announcement.

2015 will be the debut of both three-day-long festivals, each with camping options for the country music lovers.

Roll out the Barrel

Along with the announcement of Big Barrel on Thursday, the full lineup was also released, which includes headliners Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood.

“We decided to announce everything in the same day because we wanted to get tickets out before Christmas because what’s a better gift for a country music lover than tickets to a country music festival?” said Greg Bostrom, director of Firefly and Big Barrel.

The new-age country headlining acts for the festival are accompanied by veteran performers such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Merle Haggard and Loretta Lynn.

“Country music fans have a wide variety of tastes and with the electronic age, younger generations are able to listen to a lot more than older generations who may have only had the chance to listen to the music of their time and what was on the radio,” said Mr. Bostrom.

“We are trying to cater to everyone’s country music taste.”

Just a few months ago, Red Frog partnered with Golden Voice, the promoter of the Coachella Music Festival in California and its country music counterpart, Stagecoach, to help organize Big Barrel.

“This is our first country festival and we definitely got a lot of help from Golden Voice, which really got our plans into motion,” Mr. Bostrom said.

“We’ll leverage the Firefly foundation and our collective backgrounds bringing preeminent music festivals to life to establish Big Barrel as the benchmark for country music experiences this side of the Mississippi River,” Mr. Bostrom said.

The Big Barrel experience will include a large-scale dance hall, barbecue area, saloon, marketplace with a variety of western goods and products, as well as a family-friendly area.

Big Barrel is slated for less than a month after the Monster Mile’s spring race and only four days after the Firefly Music Festival wraps up.

Big Barrel will use the northern third of Firefly’s 300-acre venue and some of the infrastructure from Firefly will remain standing, such as Firefly’s main stage, which will transform into the Big Barrel Stage and Firefly’s Porch Stage that will change to the Wildwood Stage. A smaller third stage will be added to the area as well.

Mr. Bostrom said the reduced operational costs from keeping about a third of Firefly’s infrastructure in place has allowed ticket prices to remain low.

Although they are now selling for $99, the prices are expected to increase as the festival approaches.

“We are hoping to have a similar attendance as we had for the first year of Firefly,” he said.
Firefly’s first year, 2012, brought in nearly 30,000 fans from 48 states.

Mike Tatoian, COO of Dover Motorsports, Inc., said the whole staff is very excited about Big Barrel.

“We were aware of the possibility of a second festival here because the idea has been discussed for a while and we had been supportive during all those conversations,” Mr. Tatoian said.

“June is going to be very busy and we are all looking forward to it.”

Tickets, a full lineup, camping and VIP options and additional information can be found online at bigbarrelfestival.com. So far, 36 acts have been announced but that number is expected to reach close to 50, Mr. Bostrom said.

Junction joins the fray

Delaware Junction has been in the works for about a year and a half and officially announced dates on Oct. 30. The headliners, Toby Keith, Florida Georgia Line and Jason Aldean, were announced on Dec. 12.

The new festival is just one of several country festivals that Live Nations organizes across the country every year.
Other festivals include Faster Horses in Michigan, Route 91 Harvest in Nevada, Farmborough in New York, Buckeye Country Music Fest in Ohio and Watershed Festival in Washington.

“We just look for all our festivals to be an overall great experience for the attendees and we know if we are able to put together a great experience, the festival will continue to grow and become an event that people plan their summers around,” said Brian O’Connell, president of Live Nation Country Touring, earlier this week.

Mr. O’Connell anticipates Delaware Junction will become an annual event.

“This is an event that will develop its own spirit and the people who attend the first year will spread the word and we plan on this becoming a festival that continually perpetuates itself to be successful,” he said.

Tickets, a full lineup, camping and VIP options and additional information can be found online atdelawarejunctionfestival.com.

Additional acts will be posted on the site over the upcoming weeks and months. Tickets, of which 20,000 will be sold, start at $199.

Music festival takeaway

“It’s going to be a slam dunk summer for Kent County in 2015,” said Cindy Small, executive director of Kent County Tourism.

Ms. Small said she wasn’t surprised to hear the announcement of Big Barrel Thursday morning.

“When Dover Downs became the tentative location for Punkin’ Chunkin’ earlier this year, it became clear that they were looking to do more than just Firefly and NASCAR,” she said.

“And it’s really a good move on their part because they already have all the infrastructure and it looks like they are going about it the right way.”

She also added that Big Barrel will now be one of many music events for Kent Countians to enjoy.

“We have the Delaware State Fair, the Delmarva Folk Festival, Firefly and now Delaware Junction and Big Barrel,” she said. “If Kent County is going to be known for something, music is a good thing to be known for.”

Mr. Bostrom said having a pair of country music events can only be beneficial for the area.

“I think that two new music festivals in central Delaware just goes to show, not only that country music is a rapidly expanding industry, but that Delaware is becoming a destination for live musical entertainment,” Mr. Bostrom said.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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