Initially, Flambeau Fest wasn't supposed to happen until next year. 

The new country and rock 'n' roll festival, which will feature performances from Sam Hunt and Lynyrd Skynyrd among many others, is set for Saturday and Sunday at Ascension Fields at Lamar Dixon in Gonzales. 

"The original schedule was to have Flambeau Fest for March next year or the following October," festival director and Pi Entertainment CEO Mark Adam Miller said.

However, with Bayou Country Superfest leaving Baton Rouge for New Orleans and last year's flooding impacting the Ascension Parish area, Miller and his team were ready to pull the trigger. 

"We moved it up because the region was healthy and deserved a win," Miller said of Flambeau Fest. "We felt like the area was being underserved with large-scale events. We were prepared. We didn't need to wait." 

At this weekend's festival, patrons can expect music across three stages on a formerly underutilized field of 125 acres of land near the Lamar Dixon Expo Center. An additional 135 acres is available for the festival, parking and RV parking for those who want to camp out during the two-day celebration. 

Single-day general admission tickets start at $85. Two-day general admission passes are $149. VIP tickets are $170 and up. Parking and camping passes are also available. 

Though the departure of Bayou Country Superfest is on the mind of country and American music fans in the Baton Rouge area, that event's exodus wasn't the main reason for Flambeau Fest seizing the opportunity. 

"We had planned on being in a market share with Bayou Country Superfest," Miller said. "We assumed it would be here. However, we wanted to align with football and cooler weather. When Bayou Country left the market, did we say, 'This is everything lining up'? Of course, but we're not walking in with a strut. It's a daunting task to put on something this big." 

Along with No. 1 country hit-maker Hunt and those "Freebird" classic rockers Skynyrd, the festival will feature performances by Hank Williams Jr., Chase Rice, Dustin Lynch, A Thousand Horses and Blackberry Smoke. The festival is also tapping regional artists such as Todd O'Neill, Parish County Line and Vidalia as well as hosting a songwriters in the round stage. 

"Once we got Hunt, Hank and Lynyrd ... once we got the lineup set, we were floored by the response and support of the region," Miller said. "We knew we were launching a great new festival with the right spirit." 

That spirit is key for Miller and his team with respect to the tragic mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas on Sunday. On Monday, Flambeau Fest officials sent out a news release stating that security measures have been structured to ensure the "safest possible experience for all attendees, crew and artists." 

On Monday afternoon, Miller said he spent the first six hours of his day meeting with law enforcement, government and security officials to make that assurance. 

"It's such a small industry. We have family, friends, crew and artists (in Las Vegas)," Miller said on Monday. "What impacts them impacts us. The good news was that at the beginning of the meeting, those officials said that the plan we had intact was fantastic. We looked at it and said, 'Let's double up what we need to,' and that brought confidence in our plan going forward." 

That type of response from the community and his team has humbled Miller. A Cameron Parish native, he knows that the bar for a great festival experience has been set "tremendously high." 

"It's hubris launching here," he said. "We put our heads together and brought the best in the industry to throw a great festival experience for families. That's the type of thing I grew up on." 

Launching this festival has been a dream, but it's one of many that Miller has planned. In the future, he said festivalgoers can expect more events with different genres. 

"It's about capturing lightning in a bottle," he said. "Music has always brought the world together, and that was always our goal. The flambeau is a metaphor, that torch families carried up and down the bayou, and we wanted to be that torchbearer to bring new music experiences here." 

Flambeau Fest 

WHEN: Noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and noon to 9:30 p.m. Sunday 

WHERE: Ascension Fields at Lamar Dixon, Gonzales 

COST: $149 general admission both days; $85 for single-day admission; VIP tickets are $170 for single day, $319 for both days; parking passes are $20 for single day, $35 for both days; camping passes are also available for $199 and up. 


The music 

On Saturday 

At the Flambeau main stage 

  • At 4 p.m.: Jacob Davis 
  • At 5 p.m.: Jessie James Decker 
  • At 6:15 p.m.: Chase Rice 
  • At 7:45 p.m.: Dustin Lynch 
  • At 9:30 p.m.: Sam Hunt 

At the New Music Torch stage 

  • At noon: Delta Revelry 
  • At 1:05 p.m.: Vidalia 
  • At 2:10 p.m.: Everette 
  • At 3:10 p.m.: Todd O'Neill 

At the Songwriter in-the-round stage 

  • At noon: Sara Collins 
  • At 1 p.m.: Mark Carson 
  • At 2 p.m.: Jim McCormick, Jason Matthews and Joel Shewmake 

On Sunday 

At the Flambeau main stage 

  • At 2:45 p.m.: Clare Dunn
  • At 3:45 p.m.: A Thousand Horses 
  • At 5 p.m.: Blackberry Smoke 
  • At 6:15 p.m.: Hank Williams Jr. 
  • At 8 p.m.: Lynyrd Skynyrd

At the New Music Torch stage 

  • At noon: Tim Montana & The Shrednecks 
  • At 1:05 p.m.: Bishop Gun 
  • At 2 p.m.: Parish County Line 
  • At 3:15 p.m.: Chase Tyler 

At the Songwriter in-the-round stage 

  • At noon: Payton Smith 
  • At 12:45 p.m.: Greg Barnhill, Joanna Cotten and Dennis Matkoski 
  • At 3:15 p.m.: Crystal Day 
  • At 4:30 p.m.: Greg Barnhill & friends 

Follow Matthew Sigur on Twitter, @MatthewSigur.