The second edition of the Tumbleweed Country Music & Camping Festival proved much more successful than first.
The three-day concert, held July 28-29 at Sugar Creek's LaBenite Park along the Missouri River, attracted significantly more people than the 2016 concert at the same location.
The 2016 concert was held Labor Day weekend and suffered in competition against Independence's annual Santa-Cali-Gon Days festival and the volume of traffic bound for the lakes during a long weekend.
“We don't provide attendance figures, but last year was a joke in terms of attendance,” said Doug Bordegon of Borda Productions, which organized the concert. “This year it was five times more. Labor Day was tough.”
Bordegon said the music lineup also was noticeably different. Whereas last year's musicians provided a country mix, including the “country pop” of many newer artists, the 2017 lineup was all traditional country, Bordegon said, perhaps contributing to the bigger turnout.
“Really, we changed the whole festival,” he said.
Sugar Creek Mayor Mike Larson echoed the giant leap in attendance.
“It was much better this way splitting it up,” he said, adding that a city official's count of license plates in the parking area revealed 42 states represented among the fans.
LaBenite Park had absorbed several inches of the rain right before the festival, but both Bordegon and Larson said the grounds held up well.
“We were shocked,” Bordegon said. “We invested a lot putting in roadways for parking. Last year that was a big concern; there were no ruts this year.”
“My vehicle has four-wheel drive, and I didn't need it,” Larson said. Also, trash pickup afterwards went smoothly the next day because concertgoers were attentive in using the provided trash cans, he said.
Bordegon also noted that Coach's Bar and Grill in south Kansas City – which gained widespread notice when it was flooded out the night before the concert with the managers rescued through the roof – still managed to be Tumbleweed's food vendor as scheduled.
“They lost some of their product with the flood there,” Bordegon said. “Our festival started that day, and his team, there were up to speed. We only had to delay the opening two hours.”
Though the dates have not been finalized, Borda Productions plans to have Tumbleweed at LaBenite again next year at a similar point in the calendar. Next week, Sept. 7-10, Borda will have Dancefestopia at LaBenite. That concert had better success than Tumbleweed in its first turn in 2016, and Bordegon said he's anticipating a strong concert again this year, which will be the sixth edition of Dancefestopia.
“We're maturing,” he said. “We've had double-digit growth year after year, and we brought in some of the top DJs in the world. We have some big headliners, and we've expanded back to Thursday night.”