Country music festivals hit a wall


This year’s Dega Jam promo sign featuring some of its lead singers.

Country music has seen a drastic change in the last six years. The style of the music has shifted from less of the redneck banjo style to more of a hip hop country, which has attracted more people to the genre. Unfortunately, as the music’s popularity has risen, live events have dropped dramatically. Over this year alone, three of the biggest country music festivals have been cancelled. They were the Big Barrel country festival announced in January, FarmBorough in early February, and now Dega Jam in July has also been cancelled.

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Dega Jam was set to be the biggest country festival of the year, taking place at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama over the July 4th weekend. The festival was canceled by the FPI (festival production company) which offered no explanation for the cancellation, but only that it was a “business reason.”

FarmBorough and Big Barrel were also canceled for the same reasons, but according to reasons given last year at Thunder on the Mountain festival, it was an error in an overabundance of tickets distributed. Thunder on the Mountain was also set to be the biggest country music festival of 2015, but was canceled for several reasons, but with more tickets sold than available the show had to be canceled to avoid major issues.

Some of the big country names who were set to perform at Dega Jam were Toby Keith, Eric Church, and Tim McGraw. A representative for Toby Keith told the press that Dega Jam offered no reason for the cancellation, and was yet to be told of the matter.

Country singer Garth Brooks came out of retirement early last year and was set to perform at several of these shows, but has only been able to perform at one festival. He also has not been offered an explanation, and it has several country artists concerned.

Tim McGraw also spoke out on the matter, raising the issue more publicly. The FPI has offered full refunds to all ticket buyers, but this still hasn’t been enough to satisfy people. I personally would rather hear a song on the radio because some people just should not be allowed to perform live. Especially country singers, some should just stick to the radio and not get on stage.

The three top singers who were set to perform at FarmBorough (l-r) Toby Keith, Jason Aldean, and Tim McGraw
The three top singers who were set to perform at FarmBorough (l-r) Toby Keith, Jason Aldean, and Tim McGraw

Senior Joe Kraft didn’t have much of an opinion on the matter, neither did Kobe Young. “If the show is canceled it isn’t going to have that much of an impact. Hundreds of country concerts are going to happen anyway without the festivals.”

Kobe Young who also attends many concerts said the same thing. “A few big events getting canceled is not going to do anything.” With how many shows singers have in the summer alone, this won’t affect anything according to them.

They are probably right, but this is still a concern, especially among the older country artists. Tim McGraw has made several points about the issue, and thinks an explanation is necessary.

An explanation would be nice, but it is doubtful anything will come of this. The summer concerts will still go on like nothing happened. Country has clearly seen a decline today, and I’m not sure if the shows will have much of an impact on it or not.