CINCINNATI - Grab those boots, dust off that cowboy hat and buckle up y'all. Cincinnati's inaugural country music festival begins this weekend on the riverfront.
Piggybacking off of the electric crowd drawn to Sawyer Point last weekend for the Bunbury Music Festival, Buckle Up is brought by the same man who introduced us to Bunbury, Bill Donabedian.
Whether you're a country fan or not, there are many headline performers that are worth showing up for. The festival showcases more of an Americana line-up than a traditional country music line-up. The headliners are Willie Nelson, The Band Perry, Alabama and Alison Krauss. Alabama will play Friday night, Willie Nelson and Alison Krauss on Saturday and The Band Perry performing as the closer on Sunday night.
The crowd on the first day one of Buckle Up was not what was anticipated. Rain kept many away throughout the day, only bringing a large crowd for the final two acts; Jamey Johnson and Alabama. The forecast for Saturday calls for a 10 percent chance of rain and cloudy skies.
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There is one conflicting event that could pose a dilemma for some country fans in the Tri-State: Buckle Up runs the same weekend as Jason Aldean's sold out Burn It Down Tour with Florida Georgia Line, Miranda Lambert and Tyler Farr at Great American Ball Park. Country fans will have to choose between Aldean and Willie Nelson on Saturday.
This also means that nearly 60,000 people will possibly be within a few blocks of each other on Saturday, similar to the previous Saturday during Bunbury and the Cincinnati Reds sold out home game that featured a Billy Hamilton bobblehead.
TIPS: Law enforcement is reminding fans to leave nothing valuable in your vehicle, including GPS systems. Expect a significant amount of traffic and parking garages filled to capacity. Parking blocks away, getting there early or parking across the river and walking over the bridge may be your best options.
What You Need To Know:
Click the image above to see a larger map | Buckle Up Music Festival
When and where: The festival is held at Sawyer Point and Yeatman's Cove at 705 E. Pete Rose Way on July 18-20. The gates will open each day at 1 p.m. and the first performer begins at 2 p.m. with the closer finishing around 11:30 p.m on Friday, Saturday and around 10:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Tickets: One day passes are available for $69. Three-day passes are $154 and the three-day VIP tickets are $325. You can still purchase tickets at the gate or online here: ShowClix. They charge ticket fees regardless and you'll have to wait longer if you try to buy at the gate, so save yourself some time and buy online.
Tickets are transferable but not wristbands. You're given a wristband once you enter the gate. You cannot purchase a three-day wristband, attend one or two days and then give it to someone else to attend another day.
ATMs: Bring cash and nothing larger than a $20, but some vendors may accept credit cards. There will be dozens of ATMs around, but it's best to grab cash at your bank prior to arrival because the ATMs on-site will charge you a usage fee that's typically $3 or more.
Don't waste your time: Music festivals give you the chance to discover new artists. But, with six stages and some artists playing back-to-back or at the same time, you'll want to make sure you see your favorites.
You can customize your schedule so you know what stage to go to and when here: Customize my schedule. (You'll need to log in). Take a look at the map above and figure out how to get to each stage so you're not lost in the crowd. See the full schedule here.
What NOT to bring:
- Weapons or fireworks
- Illegal substances
- Large backpacks or bags
- Glass containers, coolers, beverage containers that are full (which means no outside alcohol)
- Professional cameras or recording devices
- Any type of sports equipment for fun
- Personal motorized vehicles, bikes, skateboards or carts
What you SHOULD bring:
- Bug repellent
- A sheet or towel to lay on the ground
- Rain gear if the weather calls for it (Check the latest forecast here)
- An empty water bottle
- A charging cord for your phone. They have charging stations with limited cords but if you bring your own, you won't have to wait.
- Strollers for children and lawn chairs that are nine inches or less off the ground are allowed.
What do I do with my stuff? Personal lockers are available and a good, safe option so you don't have to lug around a backpack all day. You can wear a fanny pack or bring a small book bag or purse.
What to wear: One of the best things about country music festivals is dressing the part. Ladies and gentlemen alike, you won't be alone if you wear cowboy boots and hats. In fact, it's encouraged. Down 'n' Dirty Hat Company will be selling hats for those who need one.
Anything patriotic including bandanas, flannel shirts, tattered shorts, artist-branded or camo tank tops, and light and sleeveless dresses. Oh, and don't forget to wear a big, branded belt buckle.
Whew. All that and it hasn't even begun!
WCPO at Buckle Up 2014.
Jane Andreasik is WCPO's No. 1 country fan. She'll be attending Buckle Up on Friday and Sunday. Keep an eye out for her and don't be shy -- say hello! She may feature you in an album on WCPO.com. Connect with Jane: Follow her on Twitter for all things Buckle Up! @jandreasik
WCPO arts reporter, Matt Peiken, will be attending Buckle Up on Saturday. You can follow his tweets here: WCPO Arts.
Subscribe to our Buckle Up Twitter list to follow all of the artists.