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The Country Fest Already Planning to Reduce Overcrowding

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When The Country Fest began, they never knew how big they would become.

The events original policy stated since 2010, that they would never sell out of tickets at their home at Clay’s Resort Jellystone Park, but after last year’s Luke Combs concert they knew it might not stay that way. This year’s headliners of Jason Aldean, Brantley Gilbert, and especially Morgan Wallen, provided enough of a draw to an already popular event to have The Country Fest announce the tickets were sold out months before the start of the music festival.

The Country Fest began Wednesday with what has become a bonus day, with appearances by Kameron Marlowe and Granger Smith. The crowd is normally not huge for the bonus night. On Thursday, the event started almost like normal for the early show, but by 6pm had grown in size. Friday was about the same, but the flow of the crowd seemed better. Then on Saturday, it was packed early and continued to increase throughout the night.

The anticipation for Wallen’s appearance at The Country Fest had been building for two years, and the closer to the actual day of his performance the excitement level of his fans had grown to something that the event had never seen.

Some of his fans spent the night before waiting at the gate, with some there as early as 1am. Other fans arrived earlier than in year’s past and by 4pm on Saturday (June 18), the grounds of the concert at Clay’s Resort Jellystone Park were more than half full. By the 6pm show, it was apparent that the crowd in the pit area was going to be the largest ever, with most people already standing shoulder to shoulder with the folks next to them and barely any room to move.

It’s true that last year’s appearance by Combs drew record attendance at the event (until this year), but for some reason that crowd seemed more spread out across the grounds. Wallen’s fans were drawn in to the singer, and getting as close as they could to the stage area and Wallen seemed to be the plan. After all, they had stuck by the singer through controversy and invested so much in his music and success of his double album, Dangerous, that they wanted to be a part of Saturday nights (June 18) show in any way they could.

The result was a sea of people covering the ground and the hill at Clay’s Resort. For many, it was too much, and for others it was what they expected from the current leader of touring acts of 2022, in any genre of music. Moving around the the festival’s grounds was slow at best and near impossible in some areas.

Fans already have posted that they may never return to The Country Fest if crowds like this continue, while others said that they left because the crowd was too large and felt either uncomfortable or unsafe.

Call it growing pains or the attraction of an artist that has created a bond with his fans that reached epic proportions. Either way, The Country Fest is already taking steps to never again have overcrowding at the event.

We spoke to Aaron Green from The Country Fest after the event to get his comments on the crowd situation from this past weekend. “We realize the show was extremely full and we are meeting with our safety services to determine where we need to reduce capacity to hold the event in a safe manner,” he stated in a message. He added that the cap on ticket sales would most likely be reduced to 20,000-21,000. This past Saturday the attendance was closer to 24,000, not including staff and crews.

“We also believe with the reduced capacity it will continue to lead to sellouts in a more comfortable way for our consumers. Buckle up 2023 is coming!” Green added.

I always look forward to The Country Fest and appreciate what Green and his partner, Joel Beichler, have created over the past 12 years. If they keep doing what they have been doing, country fans are going to have to get used to seeing the Sold Out sign.

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