Words & Deeds

Mountain Home Country Music Festival decides to take ‘some time,’ pulls plug on 2019

Idahoans will get a little rowdy at the annual Mountain Home Country Music Festival held in Elmore County.
Idahoans will get a little rowdy at the annual Mountain Home Country Music Festival held in Elmore County. Statesman file

The annual Mountain Home Country Music Festival finally did what many observers expected it to do 12 months earlier.

Pulled the plug.

Leaving the barn door cracked for another possible roll in the hay, the festival announced today that it would not return next year.

“We made the difficult decision to go on hiatus for 2019 after considering a number of business factors,” organizers revealed in a short paragraph. “We know we have a loyal and engaged fanbase for Mountain Home in Idaho and beyond. We are going to take some time to figure out our next steps as we want to ensure that we can deliver a sustainable world-class event.”

This summer’s gathering took place July 27-29 in the same location about 30 minutes from Mountain Home.

When contacted, Festival President Anne Hankins declined to share attendance numbers or answer questions, instead providing the prepared statement. That’s a change from the past, when she’s often been candid about challenges facing the ambitious, three-day event in rural Elmore County. (Trust me, transparency is not a common trait among concert promoters and producers.)

Highlights from the 2016 three-day festival in rural Elmore County.

Hankins reported crowds of 14,000 fans daily the first two years. Those are significant numbers, especially with so many festivalgoers camping. Both years were marred by sizzling Idaho temperatures and dust. Attendance slipped in 2017, when stormy weather and lightning forced the cancellation of Friday night performances by Keith Urban and opener Billy Currington.

Still, the festival plowed forward with slightly lowered expectations. This year’s headliners — Eric Church, Alan Jackson and Dierks Bentley — appeared to be a less costly venture for organizers. Previous years’ stars included Jason Aldean, Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan and Chris Stapleton, among others.

Either way, Bi-Mart — which produces similar events in other states — won’t bring it back in 2019. If the festival does return in some form, I’m guessing it won’t be in the same remote spot.

Maybe they could combine it with a major rodeo in Nampa?

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