Photo: Andrew Sturgill / BizBashLEXINGTON, Kentucky–After a successful inaugural year in 2019, the organizers of the Railbird Festival were forced to hold back their horses in 2020 due to the pandemic. Corn The two-day music festival was back in the saddle this year, with the event taking place August 28-29 at the Grounds at Keeneland, the famous racetrack and auction house located in Lexington, Ky.
Named after horse racing enthusiasts known to cling to the rail that lines the track, the 2021 Railbird Festival, which is produced by AC Entertainment (which is part of Live Nation), featured an artist lineup including headliners Dave Matthews Band and My Morning Jacket, as well as Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit, Leon Bridges, Billy Strings, Black Pumas, Khruangbin, Midland, The Revivalists, Band of Horses, Margo Price and more.
In addition to the musical performances, festival-goers also got to participate in some bluegrass traditions, including bourbon tasting, local dishes, and even off-piste betting. “One thing we love to do every time we have a festival is to capture the spirit and the community of the city we are in, so not just Keeneland, but Lexington itself,” said Jeff Cuellar, vice -President of strategic partnerships at Knoxville, Tennessee-based AC Entertainment, which also produces the Bonnaroo and Forecastle festivals.
This year, Railbird attendance soared to 35,000 people per day, up from 15,000 per day in 2019. Due to growth, the festival’s footprint, which included three stages, has widened to include larger ones. VIP viewing areas, changes in stage layout to accommodate larger crowds, and an increase in on-site experiences.
Photo: Courtesy of Live NationThe site was also dissected by a main thoroughfare with food and drink vendors. Organizers said the design was intentional, to encourage participants to make concessions as they walked across the pitch. VIP ticket holders had access to exclusive lounges with air conditioning, appetizers, private bars and commemorative products.
It’s like “building a city in 10 days,” said Mike Rosbrook, national account manager of entertainment solutions for Sunbelt Rentals, which partners with companies like AC Entertainment and Live Nation to produce festivals, providing everything from forklifts to ground power generation equipment. protection.
The Fort Mill, SC-based rental company also provides equipment for other tent events across the country, including large-scale sporting events, corporate receptions, and other concerts and festivals. like Austin City Limits, BottleRock Napa Valley and Tortuga Music Festival.
Typically, annual festivals like Raibird require year-round planning, but due to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, organizers started in May of this year. Rosbrook said it took 10 days to load and four days to dismantle the festival infrastructure, with more than 1,275 pieces of Sunbelt equipment in use.
“The minute you take it apart, you start talking about ‘how can you improve it for next year? How can you do things differently in order to make it more effective or better from a fan point of view, a venue point of view? These conversations take place all year round with Mike [Rosbrook] and his team, ”Cuellar said.
During the first day of the festival, temperatures reached over 90 degrees, resulting in long lines at water filling stations and concession stands. Organizers issued a statement on the festival’s social networks about the situation.
As heat and humidity plague many outdoor summer festivals, concerns about COVID-19 and the health and safety of fans, staff and performers were at the forefront. Participants had to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results obtained within 72 hours of day one in order to participate. Unvaccinated people were asked to wear a mask on site.
See more of the interior of the Railbird Festival below.