Country music festival planned for Sussex – Delmarva Daily Times
HARBESON – On the heels of landing Firefly Music Festival, Delaware could be hosting even more national acts by 2015 thanks to a new country music festival being planned for Sussex County.
The festival would launch in August 2015 as a two-day camping event with an eye on growing in future years, said Dewey Beach businessman and attorney Alex Pires, who is leading the venture.
The first choice for a festival location is Hollyville Farms, a sprawling 1,000-acre Harbeson-area farm 10 miles east of Georgetown. The festival would use about 500 acres and organizers expect about 15,000 people the first year.
An ordinance to allow conditional use of the farm for the festival will be introduced at Tuesday night’s Sussex County Council meeting. A public hearing would then be scheduled.
Pires, co-owner of Dewey hotspots like the Bottle & Cork and the Rusty Rudder, said the festival could also be held on 130 acres of land in Harrington owned by Delaware State Fair, Inc., the current king of major live country concerts in Delaware. The land is near the Harrington Raceway & Casino.
Bill DiMondi, general manager of the Delaware State Fair Inc., which is the majority owner of Harrington Raceway and Casino, declined to comment through a spokesman.
For the still-unnamed festival, Pires is teaming up with one of music’s biggest managers and promoters.
Coran Capshaw, whose company Red Light Management handles nearly 200 acts, including country stars like Tim McGraw, Luke Bryan, Lady Antebellum, Dierks Bentley and The Band Perry, is on board, Pires says.
Capshaw’s sister company, the live music promotion group Starr Hill Presents, would be a partner. Capshaw, the longtime manager of the Dave Matthews Band, is ranked No. 3 on this year’s Power 100 rankings in Billboard magazine. He helped support the launch of the first Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival and still has an equity position with it.
Hollyville Farms, owned by Wayne and Frances Baker, is worked by their sons Matt and Mark, who grow corn, wheat and soybeans.
“They approached us this winter and told us what their vision was. We were willing to listen and the more we heard what their vision was, it was easy to get excited about it,” said Mark Baker, 41, whose family has owned the farm for about 13 years. “We think it’s a great thing for Sussex County and for Delaware.”
Pires and his team have been looking into doing a major East Coast country music festival for 1½ years, Pires said Monday during a tour of the farm.
When asked if any of Capshaw’s country artists would play the festival, Pires smiled and gave only a hint: “(Capshaw) wouldn’t want his festival to fail.”
If the new country festival launches next summer, it would be the second national music festival to land in Delaware since 2012, following in the footsteps of the Firefly Music Festival, which will hold its third edition June 19-22 on 300 acres in Dover. Foo Fighters, OutKast and Jack Johnson will headline.
Pires’ Bottle & Cork has been hosting up-and coming country acts for years. Some are already among today’s biggest country superstars, including Eric Church and Miranda Lambert.