Thousands of country, Americana and bluegrass music fans invaded the Myriad Botanical Gardens in downtown Oklahoma City on Saturday to enjoy the first OKCFest music festival.
The music began Friday afternoon with performances in the old Ford parking lot by musicians such as Dierks Bentley and country legend Merle Haggard, who performed for more than ten thousand fans.
The music resumed at noon Saturday with the Oklahoma City-based country trio Air Line Road. At the start of their set, the Great Lawn in the Myriad Gardens was scattered with about 30 listeners, which gradually grew to over 40 by the end of the performance.
Solo acoustic act Jesse General Thompson started the lineup of Americana artists on the Plaza by Cox stage. Over 50 festival goers chatted and got lunch at the Ice House under the tent while he performed.
“I wrote this song a week ago so I might just completely blank on the words,” Thompson joked between two tunes. “Or I might nail it.”
Rain halted the performances on the Rotunda by ITC Holdings Stage and on the Great Lawn around 1:30, but music resumed an hour later. Travis Wackerly & Honey Creek Pass played some bluegrass under the rotunda, and Jennifay Joy and Diamond Grit played a cover of “Better Dig Two” by The Band Perry on the Great Lawn.
Crowds started to thin as the lines to get into the main stage grew, but Oklahoma City singer-songwriter Chase Kerby kept the party going at the Plaza by Cox stage.
Acoustic, folk or otherwise less-country acts were limited to the Plaza Stage. Kerby said he thought the festival would benefit from expanding the number of non-country artists in coming years.
“Pop country leads way to other things and a lot of people who like pop country also like Red Dirt, which probably means they like Americana which means they like folk which means they like singer-songwriters,” he said after his 3:00 performance. “So you can really branch it out quite a bit.”
Despite coming on stage the same time fans were gathering in the old Ford parking lot to hear Lucas Hoge perform, Mike Hosty gathered an almost full audience at the Plaza stage. His humorous lyrics and banter between songs had the entire audience engaged and laughing the entire time.
Kix Brooks, half of the notorious country duo Brooks & Dunn, performed second on the main stage. His setlist included songs he wrote since pursuing a solo career, as well as some Brooks & Dunn favorites, including “Red Dirt Road” and “Mama Don’t Get Dressed Up For Nothing.”