This year’s K105FM CountryFest is moving to Parkview Field, which can house more country fans and has already set an attendance record for both the festival and the ballpark.
CountryFest marks a transition for the festival, which has been held at Headwaters Park since its inaugural year in 2008.
The concert is sold out, which breaks the attendance record for the festival and for a single-day event at Parkview Field.
David Michaels, program director of WQHK K105FM, says the festival has come full circle as platinum recording artist Gary Allan headlines the festival for the second time.
Singer-songwriter Craig Morgan and country duo Love and Theft will be featured acts, along with Katie Arminger, Bill Gentry and Charlie Worsham.
(Gary Allan) actually kicked us off in 2008, Michaels says. Once we knew Gary was available, we thought if we’re going to be kicking off in a new location, let’s bring him back again.
Michaels says moving the festival from its original location has been under consideration since country artist Jason Aldean headlined the festival in 2010. Michaels says attendance hit capacity at 8,000 that year and has hit capacity every year since.
We looked at moving it so we would be able to increase the capacity and have more room, he says. One of the biggest changes is going from a capacity of 8,000 to 12,500 and having stadium seating to use. It’s a bigger venue that could possibly help bring in bigger acts.
This year’s festival will make use of Parkview Field’s 26-foot-tall video board and seating options, including admission for the park’s suite level. A VIP pit section will be on the field for fans who want to stand stage-side.
For listeners, it’s going to be a much better line of sight. The comfort level is going to be such an improvement, Michaels says. People are glad that it’s moving just because of the comfort level.
This year’s ticket sales stand as a testament. Taking into account how little time it took to surpass the original cap of 8,000, Michaels said last week he believed the festival would come close to hitting capacity for Parkview Field.
And it did; Michaels announced Thursday that the show had sold out.
Parkview Field has made it very easy to make it happen, he says. They have been very helpful.
Mike Nutter, president of the Fort Wayne TinCaps, says the ballpark was designed to be a multifunctional facility and accommodate events other than baseball games. When Parkview Field opened in 2009, the venue was used for one concert that year, followed by two more concerts in 2010 and the Bob Dylan concert last year.
In addition to CountryFest, the ballpark will host WBYR-FM’s 98.9 The Bear Birthday Bash on Sunday, bringing the total to seven major concerts this year for Parkview Field.
Nutter says a $1 fee has been included in the festival’s price of admission to help fund the maintenance of the field and facilities.
A lot of work went into the design so that we could do this. A good goal for us is to have two or three major shows a year, he says.
We purchased $100,000 worth of flooring for concerts, which helps keep our field in good shape. It’s a little unique.
Nutter says Parkview Field also offers a convenient location, close to a number of downtown locales for dining and shopping before and after events. He says once people visit for one event, the venue tends to win over people who wouldn’t consider themselves baseball fans.
I’m a baseball guy, but things are changing. We’re attracting over 100,000 people with activities that have nothing to do with baseball. It helps (keep) the field rocking year-round, he says.
We met a lot of people at the Bob Dylan concert last year, and out of the 5,000 people who were there, we met hundreds that said, God, I didn’t know this place was this nice.’ It really opens the door.
Despite the change of scenery, Michaels says country fans can expect to have the same quality of entertainment.
With the Parkview Field gates opening at 1 p.m., he says he wants everyone to have the best Saturday they have had all summer long.
Fort Wayne has a huge country market. We have great fans, and they get into coming out to shows, he says.
They expect a great time, great music and that the country artists are going to give them a show.