Words & Deeds

Attendance dipped at Mountain Home Country Music Festival. Will it return?

Inclement weather forced the cancellation of Friday night’s Mountain Home Country Music Festival.
Inclement weather forced the cancellation of Friday night’s Mountain Home Country Music Festival. Mountain Home Country Music Festival

Lightning supposedly never strikes the same place twice. But if it were going to happen, watch out if you’re in rural Elmore County.

The site of the Mountain Home Country Music Festival is starting to feel jinxed. After enduring blazing-hot weather and dusty conditions during its first two years, the event suffered another round of tough luck last weekend. Stormy weather and lightning forced the cancellation of Friday-night headliner Keith Urban and opener Billy Currington.

Thousands of fans were evacuated. Many still had belongings inside the venue.

“Some were more understanding than others,” festival president Anne Hankins said. “Public safety and the safety and well being of our fans is our No. 1 priority, always.”

Refunds were not offered. Instead, festivalgoers with Friday single-day passes were allowed to use those for the remainder of the festival, Hankins said. Luke Bryan headlined Saturday and Chris Stapleton headlined Sunday.

About 11,000 people attended each day on Saturday and Sunday, Hankins said. An official tally for Friday was unavailable, but Hankins said she thinks it was around 10,000 or 11,000.

Overall attendance was down from 2016. Organizers estimated about 14,000 attended each night during the first two years.

“On Friday, people — once they heard the storm was happening — they didn’t come out to the venue,” she said. “And then the rumor mill started that our stage was damaged, which it wasn’t. I think that didn’t help attendance over the next two days.”

Organizers have not decided whether the Mountain Home Country Music Festival will return, Hankins said — to the same site, or at all.

“I don’t have a point blank answer for you,” she said. “Stay tuned to Facebook for announcements on 2018.”

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