NORMAN — When the Norman Music Festival first took over Norman's Main Street in 2008, 22 bands played during a single day of music. But as the festival kicked off its sixth annual celebration of local, regional, national and global music, more than 300 acts were preparing to play between 6 p.m. Thursday and 2 a.m. Sunday.
“Counting everything, we have 313 entries, so it's the biggest by far,” said Quentin Bomgardner, past chairman and current board member for the festival. “Our expectations this year are to carry on the traditions of the festival, have a few more people attend if we're fortunate, and have a great time celebrating the community of Norman and the music community statewide and beyond.”
Although organizers are prepared for possible rain Friday, most stages will be indoor that day.
And with good weather forecast for Saturday, Bomgardner said he is expecting attendance to meet or exceed 2012's number for all days, including Saturday, which features headlining performances by The Joy Formidable on the Main Stage and JD McPherson on the Americana- and roots-oriented Sailor Jerry Stage.
“We expect it to be in the 50,000 range,” he said. “Last year we were a little bit over that, and this year is looking good for the same sort of turnout, just based on what we're seeing on Google and social media.”
Steven White, who is co-chairing this year's festival with Kent Johnson, said that, over the course of six annual events, Norman Music Festival has developed a strong reputation with bands that are repeat performers or have heard about the festival from fellow touring acts.
“I've been booking this event for six years now, and agents know when I call about the Norman Music Festival that it's huge exposure, but I'm doing it on a dime,” White said of the festival's tight budget. “That keeps me up at night.”
But he said that, despite the stress involved in setting up what has become a huge local event, Norman Music Festival continues to grow and improve.
“The system's working,” White said. “Every year, we take care of it, we nurture it, we do what we can to make it grow.”