The cowboy boot- and hat-clad crowds have been coming to Tiger Stadium for the past six Memorial Day weekends for Bayou Country Superfest — an event often touted since its 2010 inception as an economic driver that fills up local hotels with people from nearly every other state and some foreign countries.
Superfest organizer Quint Davis was expecting to sell more than 100,000 tickets earlier this week.
Closer to home, though, locals seem to have embraced it and found a different kind of value for the event.
“The (performers) that I’ve seen put on a really good show and the crowd’s into it and have a really good concert,” said repeat attendee Vanessa Merrow, of Dutchtown. “…I think it’s because it’s at Tiger Stadium. It makes a big difference.”
Superfest is still relatively new to the Baton Rouge scene, but Merrow sees it becoming a tradition if organizers are able to maintain good lineups. This year’s top names included Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert.
Merrow and her 16-year-old daughter, Haley Norman, and sister-in-law Michelle Norris were not among the high-fashion teenagers and enthusiastic out-of-staters dressed in elaborate western-style outfits. They opted for comfortable tennis shoes over leather boots.
“Too hot — been there done that,” Merrow said.
Other Louisiana attendees, dressed in purple and gold as if it were a Saturday in football season, have folded Bayou Country Superfest into larger, longer-standing customs.
As the free Fan Fest was gearing up late Saturday morning, a handful of tailgaters had already pitched their tents within earshot of performers in the stadium parking lot. Unlike football season tailgating, which lasts one gameday a time, Superfest allows a whole weekend of it.
“The music is just lagniappe,” said Danny McCartney, of Prairieville, who has been to Superfest for four years.
McCartney is “nothing but a country fan,” but some years, he stays outside tailgating instead of going into the stadium for the concerts.
“By afternoon, we’ll have everybody that we know, about 30 or 40 of us,” McCartney said as friends cooked a pot of jambalaya nearby.
This year’s Superfest is the first for fellow tailgater and Covington resident Mandi Rudolph — but she loves going to Tiger Stadium for games.
“It could only be better with music,” she said.
Out-of-state country fans were quickly drawn into a big family found at Superfest. Anjel Womack, a six-year attendee of the festival who lives in Baton Rouge, said she likes country music because the songs tell a story and mean something — an explanation offered by several people as to why they decided to come.
“It reaches a lot of people,” said Chantelle Falcon of Prairieville. “You can relate more to it and the crowd is a fun crowd.”
But Falcon also pointed out that Superfest, despite having a fun crowd that is thousands in numbers, remains kid-friendly.
It’s an event that people like Covington resident Annette Taylor bring their families to and enjoy together. For Taylor, the LSU campus is a good home for a country music festival.
She and her son, 14-year-old Jacob Taylor, were excited to see Shelton and Lambert. It’s special having such big-name stars in town, Jacob Taylor said.
“It’s a big party down in the South,” he said.
“(Baton Rouge) is a town that everybody enjoys tailgating, they enjoy cooking, they enjoy hanging out, they enjoy just having a good time,” Annette Taylor said. “It’s a perfect venue for it. … Most country music people are kind of laid back and enjoy the friendships and that kind of thing. … It goes on during football season. To me, it goes hand in hand.”