Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. today for the inaugural OKCFEST, a downtown summer musical festival whose first edition will feature country music stars include Lady Antebellum, Dierks Bentley, Merle Haggard, Randy Rogers, Kix Brooks, Josh Abbott, Casey Donahew and Scotty McCreery as headliners.
Set for Thursday, June 26 through Sunday, June 29, the festival promises to mix contemporary and traditional country, rock, bluegrass, jazz, unplugged singer-songwriter showcases, “rock en Espagnol” and gospel music.
Production stages will be concentrated in the Myriad Gardens vicinity across from the City’s iconic Devon Energy Tower and the Chesapeake Energy Arena, and blocks from the city’s popular Bricktown entertainment district, Oklahoma River Boathouse District, Film Row and the Oklahoma City Museum of Art and other prominent cultural and recreational destinations. Within walking distance of the festival staging area are dozens of hotels, restaurants and bistros.
Additional music and other entertainment events on three nearby Myriad Garden stages will be free to the public Friday through Sunday afternoons and evenings, with preferred seating at each stage reserved for those holding OKCFEST passes.
Reflecting the genre’s historic Oklahoma popularity, country was selected as the focus of the festival’s first year scheduling. On Friday, June 27, Bentley, Haggard, Josh Abbott Band and Casey Donahew Band will perform on the main stage at the corner of Harvey and Reno avenues. The main stage lineup for Saturday, June 28, will include Lady Antebellum, Scotty McCreery, Randy Rogers Band and Kix Brooks. Gates will open at 4 p.m., with music starting at 5 p.m. both days.
All tickets are general admission, and they priced at $35, plus service charges. Two-day passes are $59, plus service charges.
Tickets can be purchased at www.OKCFEST.com, at www.ProTix.com, and in select Oklahoma ProTix retail locations.
The high-profile first year line-up resulted from a collaborative effort between prominent Oklahoma City business and civic leader Fred Hall and Victor Sansone, the respected past chairman of the Country Music Association and former ABC radio executive, who is serving as an entertainment and production consultant to OKCFEST.
Lady Antebellum, Bentley and Haggard all performed on Sunday’s Academy of Country Music Awards, which topped the network TV ratings on CBS. The trio also will be featured on “ACM Presents: An All-Star Salute to the Troops” airing May 20 on CBS.
In an exclusive interview with my excellent colleague Nathan Poppe, Hall and OKC Mayor Mick Cornett said the plans for OKCFEST came together in just three months.
“People are looking to come to downtown Oklahoma City regardless of what’s going on,” Cornett told Nathan. “You put this event in downtown Oklahoma City, and it really complements what our city has to offer.”
Tornado relief concerts in the summer of 2013 sparked the idea for OKCFEST. The high-profile efforts of headliners including Garth Brooks, Toby Keith, Kings of Leon and the Flaming Lips to raise money for those affected by the storm were enough to fan the mayor’s desire to get more events like that to happen in Oklahoma.
“This is a transformational event in Oklahoma City,” Cornett said. “In that it will not just be a weekend — it will, I believe, kick-start a new identity for the music scene in Oklahoma City and also be the beginning of an industry for both film and video.”
Hall’s Nashville music connections came into play and his business savvy led event organization to come together quickly. Hall told Nathan he’s looking at OKCFEST to draw 30,000 people per day. He also noted more than 90 percent of event production is from Oklahoma-based vendors.
OKCFEST is a production of Hall’s ROKCFEST, LLC, formed expressly for the production of the event, according to a news release. Physical production is being managed by DCF Concerts, an Oklahoma City-based production company that was the local promoter of last year’s “Gentlemen of the Road” weekend festival tour stop in Guthrie, Oklahoma, headlined by Grammy winners and tour organizers Mumford & Sons.
Hall also said that OKCFEST will be a kick-off party to celebrate Oklahoma City’s planned Core to Shore downtown park and new convention center and will give festivalgoers an exciting glimpse of what is possible in the years ahead as this event and downtown evolve together.
Along with the country headliners, celebrated producer, composer and renowned jazz vocalist Steve Tyrell and his 8-piece band will kick-off the weekend with an exclusive and independently ticketed Thursday night show for festival underwriters, sponsors and their special guests.
For more information, go to www.okcfest.com.