Despite scorching hot temperatures, the first HullabaLOU Music Festival drew more than 78,000 fans from across North America for a weekend of endless music outdoors at Churchill Downs.
Over a July three-day weekend, attendees got to listen –and dance – to 66 artists ranging from headliners Bon Jovi, Dave Matthews Band and Kenny Chesney, to the B-52s, Loretta Lynn, Taj Mahal and Huey Lewis & the News. Other acts included Sam Bush, the O’Jays, Steve Miller Band, Gladys Knight, the Dooby Brothers, Al Green, Michael McDonald, Joan Osborne and Dwight Yoakum.
To beat the heat, Churchill Downs set up huge “Cool Zone” stations, where fans sprayed a cool mist. The track also opened up entire second half of the third-floor grandstand to offer air conditioning, food, drinks and, of course, shade.
Churchill Downs Entertainment Group developed the festival with an eye towards building a nationally acclaimed event. The Churchill Down brand and the track’s storied history helped open many artists’ doors, CDE President Steve Sexton said.
The festival offered fans five stages of music over three days. Many acts performed for about an hour, while headliners played up to two hours. Three of the stages were in the infield, facing north, south and east, and offered lawn seating. The main stage was set up by the finish line, and had general and reserved seating.
A fifth stage operated within the track’s Paddock area.
Vendors also sold souvenirs and crafts at the “Kentucky Heritage Marketplace,” and food and drinks throughout the track. A music store sold CDs of the acts, which fans could then take over to an “Autograph Tent” to get signed.
A HullabaLOU Facebook page is now collecting comments for planning next year’s festival, from some of the 26,000-plus fans of the page. More information is at HullabalouFest.
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