The Bayou Country Superfest is headed home to Baton Rouge next year.
The Memorial Day weekend country music festival spent the past two years at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. But the Superfest will return to its original venue, LSU's Tiger Stadium, for its 10th anniversary show on May 25-26, 2019, producers announced Thursday.
The talent lineup will be revealed in early 2019.
Over the years, the Bayou Country Superfest has featured the likes of George Strait, Taylor Swift, Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban, Tim McGraw, the Zac Brown Band, Blake Shelton and many other country stars.
The event is produced by a subsidiary of Quint Davis' Festival Productions Inc.-New Orleans, along with AEG Presents and the Messina Touring Group. Festival Productions and AEG also produce the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Just like the three acts that preceded him at Bayou Country Superfest on Sunday, Chris Stapleton scored points by name-checking the night’s es…
The Superfest moved to New Orleans in 2017 out of necessity. Off-season renovations to Tiger Stadium meant the facility wasn't available for the festival in May.
"When the decision was made in late 2016 to relocate the Bayou Country Superfest from Baton Rouge to New Orleans and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, we did not know if that would be a one-year arrangement or possibly longer," Superdome general manager Alan Freeman said.
He added: "As with all things, the concert business is constantly evolving and even though the event had two pretty successful years in New Orleans, especially in 2018, the time was right for it to return to Baton Rouge. We wish them nothing but continued success."
The inaugural Bayou Country Superfest in 2010 got off to a fast start by featuring Taylor Swift, who hadn't yet fully transitioned from country to pop music, in her first-ever stadium headlining concert.
Strait drew one of the largest crowds in Bayou Country Superfest history to Tiger Stadium in 2014. That year, the festival added Friday to its traditional Saturday-Sunday schedule in order to accommodate a stop on Strait's "Cowboy Rides Away" farewell tour. Total attendance for the three-night 2014 BCS was 135,000, the most in the festival's history.
Attendance in 2015 totaled 125,000, thanks in large part to Swift's return as part of the tour for her "1989" album. At Swift's insistence, however, her opening night appearance at Tiger Stadium wasn’t officially billed as part of the Bayou Country Superfest, since she no longer considered herself a country artist.
About 100,000 fans passed through the gates of the three-night 2016 Superfest in Tiger Stadium.
That August, as the festival's producers sought a new, three-year contract to stage the festival in Tiger Stadium, LSU officials said the facility wouldn’t be available in 2017 or 2018 because of major renovations scheduled for the months between football seasons.
Forced to find a new home for 2017, producers inquired about several college football stadiums throughout the Southeastern Conference. Ultimately, they settled on the Superdome.
Attendance for the first BCS in New Orleans, which included two nights at the Dome featuring Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Thomas Rhett, Brooks & Dunn, Hank Williams Jr., Rascal Flatts and Brett Eldredge, plus a free show at Champions Square, totaled around 60,000.
That figure represented the third consecutive year of declining attendance.
The shift from an outdoor stadium in Baton Rouge to an indoor stadium in New Orleans may have turned off some fans. During its first seven years in Baton Rouge, tailgating on the LSU campus was always part of the Superfest experience. Downtown New Orleans was not as conducive to tailgating.
But a larger dynamic was also in play. In the decade since the Superfest’s inception, music festivals in general, and country festivals in particular, have proliferated. More festivals mean fans have more options.
And while the number of festivals has grown, the number of country acts capable of attracting huge crowds at those festivals hasn’t. Several Superfest headliners have made repeat appearances; some fan burnout is to be expected.
In 2018, Bayou Country Superfest scaled back to a single night in the Superdome for what was essentially a stand-alone concert by the not-entirely-retired Strait. With Strait topping a strong bill that also featured Chris Stapleton, Little Big Town, Kacey Musgraves and Midland, all 53,000 available tickets were sold.
That success contributed to an especially robust year for music at the Superdome. In addition to the single-night Superfest, the Dome hosted one of the most successful Essence Festivals ever, with three sold-out nights of concerts.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z nearly filled the Dome for their co-headlining "On the Run II" show on Sept. 13. Taylor Swift sold all 53,172 available tickets for her Sept. 22 concert, resulting in the largest crowd ever for a female headliner at the Superdome.
And Ed Sheeran sold approximately 37,000 tickets for his Halloween night solo show at the Dome.
Essence will return to the Superdome over the July 4 weekend in 2019. So far, no other concerts have been announced for the facility.
"The Superdome had an extraordinary concert year in 2018, probably the best ever since (the Smoothie King Center) opened in 1999," Freeman said. "We will be hard-pressed to replicate the number of shows we were fortunate to host this year. The stars lined up just right for us."
Bayou Country Superfest will revert to its traditional two-night schedule in Baton Rouge.
Sponsors of the 2019 Bayou Country Superfest include the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation & Tourism; the city of Baton Rouge; Visit Baton Rouge; and Bud Light. The deal to bring the festival back to Baton Rouge reportedly included a number of financial incentives totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.