Three-Day Country Music Festival Officially Coming to Kent Co. - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Three-Day Country Music Festival Officially Coming to Kent Co.

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HARRINGTON, Del. (WBOC) - Country music fans should get ready to strike up the band. A major festival is now officially a go on Delmarva.

Tuesday morning WBOC got confirmation from Dewey Beach businessman Alex Pires the Delaware State Fairgrounds will play host to a country music festival this upcoming summer.

Details are sparse at this point. Many more should come out at a news conference Thursday.

Pires says it will be a three-day festival. It will run Aug. 14-16, just two weeks after the end of the 2015 state fair. And Live Nation, America's largest concert promoter, is involved.

Kent County Tourism Director Cindy Small says Harrington is a great place for the festival.

"I think that Harrington is brilliant. We have a central location, a terrific venue. We have a marketing staff that absolutely knows what they're doing, very similar to Dover International Speedway and its relationship with Firefly."

"They have Firefly in Dover," said Claire Parker Tuesday in Harrington. "Why not have a big country festival here in Harrington? The fairgrounds are beautiful. They have enough space. What better place to have it."

It was long, winding road to get the music festival to this point. Rumblings about a music festival in Sussex County began this spring. The plan was to hold a two-day event in a large field in the Harbeson area. But after months of discussions, public hearings, lots of upset neighbors, that idea bit the dust.

Immediately, attention turned to the place Alex Pires said was his second choice - the Delaware State Fairgrounds - not in Sussex County, but in Kent County.

It's another example of an event that was supposed to happen in Sussex County but now will call Kent County home, like Punkin Chunkin.

And where these events happens matters, because they have major economic impacts on the areas where they happen.

Business owners in the Harrington area say a country music festival will attract tens of thousands of people, all with money to spend.

"It's going to be great for all businesses around here," said Melissa Palmer, a waitress at Rudy's Family Restaurant in Harrington. "It's going to be good for the economy in general. You know it's going to help a lot of people."

Palmer was excited to hear that the festival was making its way to the area.

"I think it's time that Delaware starts doing a lot more festivals, bringing a lot more music and culture here."

Establishments like Rudy's Family Restaurant are expecting a lot of business during the time frame of the event.

"It's going to be huge for business," said Shannon Wilds, the manager of Rudy's Family Restaurant. "Something like this comparable to Firefly in Dover is going to be huge for every business around here."

Wilds says the restaurant felt the impact of Firefly all the way in Harrington. With the Country Music Festival taking place right up the road from the establishment, they expect the impact to be greater.

During Firefly's first year in 2012, it hosted about 30,000 people. That number went up to 65,000 the next year. This year the event had 80,000 people. The state estimates that Firefly brought in about $12 million its first year. It also estimates that number doubling to $24 million in 2013.

There is no telling what numbers the Country Music Festival will bring in. But with ten months until the event, Kent County businesses have plenty of time to prepare.

WBOC reporter Shannel Douglas contributed to this report.

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