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Jason Aldean performs at the Bayou Country Superfest on Sunday, May 26th at LSU Tiger Stadium.

Bayou Country Superfest drew about 50,000 people to Tiger Stadium over Memorial Day weekend, less than half the size of the crowd that showed up the last time the event was held in Baton Rouge in 2016 and smaller than crowds attending during years in New Orleans.

Festival Productions Inc., which produced the two-day event, announced the attendance in a press release Wednesday. The concert was headlined by Kenny Chesney, Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line. Officials would not comment further about the festival. 

Visit Baton Rouge and the Louisiana Office of Tourism each contributed $350,000 to support the festival. And the city-parish rebated its 2% local general fund sales tax on ticket purchases, the same arrangement as in the past.

“The attendance was a bit down from what we’ve seen in the past,” said Karron Alford, director of marketing and technology for Visit Baton Rouge.

One of the reasons the crowds may have been smaller could be that the festival lineup wasn’t announced until Valentine’s Day. In the past, the Bayou Country Superfest lineup was announced before Thanksgiving. That allowed people to buy tickets as Christmas presents and gave them more time to make plans for the busy Memorial Day weekend, Alford said. Because the festival lineup was announced late, many people had already set up what they would do over the holiday weekend.

That first Bayou Country Superfest in 2010 brought out more than 85,000 people, organizers said, staking a claim that it would be an annual event in Baton Rouge. Over the years, the festival has featured country giants like George Strait, Tim McGraw, Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, the Zac Brown Band, Carrie Underwood and Blake Shelton.

Superfest attendance steadily grew until it peaked in 2014, when the festival added Friday to its schedule and attracted 135,000 people. Around 125,000 attended in 2015 and about 100,000 in 2016 to the three-day event.

In August 2016, festival producers were planning to stage the festival in Tiger Stadium again when they were told the facility wouldn't be available for the next two years because of major renovations being made to the concession stands and restrooms between football seasons. Producers inquired about several college football stadiums throughout the Southeastern Conference but ultimately settled on the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. About 60,000 people attended the first Superfest in New Orleans, a two-day festival featuring Shelton, Lambert, Brooks & Dunn, Rascal Flatts and Hank Williams Jr. Several things may have kept the Superfest from making the same splash in the Crescent City: a move from an outdoor festival to an inside one; a lack of tailgating; and the abundance of festivals that happen in New Orleans.

In 2018 Superfest scaled back to a single night in the Superdome and the event sold out all 53,000 tickets.

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Ben Blackwell, area manager of operations for Hospitality America which has the Hampton Inn and Suites Baton Rouge Downtown and the Courtyard by Marriott Baton Rouge Downtown, said even with the smaller crowd, Bayou Country Superfest did boost occupancy rates at hotels near LSU.

“I will say that Friday was not as busy as expected but believe it is attributed to the late start of the Saturday concert and there was not that big of a draw for guests to arrive earlier. (Occupancy) rates were good and, again, better than if there was no event,” Blackwell said.

Blackwell said he expects the festival will be as strong as previous years if plans are announced earlier.

“As a service industry community, we are happy that it is back as it not only benefits the hotels but restaurants and bars as well, and we would like for the concert series to continue for the foreseeable future,” he said.

Follow Timothy Boone on Twitter, @TCB_TheAdvocate.