Strait to open 3-days country music fest

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Baton Rouge transforms this weekend into a haven for country music lovers for the 3-day Bayou Country Superfest.
The festival opens Friday at Tiger Stadium on the LSU campus with a headline performance by George Strait, who's nearing the end of his farewell tour.
Strait's 47-date "The Cowboy Rides Away" tour ends June 7 in Arlington, Texas.
Other performers on Friday include Reba McEntire and Chris Young.
Saturday's lineup includes Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Lee Brice, Easton Corbin and Gloriana. On Sunday, Jason Aldean, Eric Church, Big & Rich, Joe Nichols and 22-year-old Breaux Bridge native Hunter Hayes are featured.
The festival, now in its fifth year, continues to deepen its economic impact for Baton Rouge. Hospitality industry officials say hotel rooms are all but sold out.
Festival producer Quint Davis also organizes the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival, which completed a two-weekend run earlier this month. He sees Baton Rouge establishing itself as a center for the country music culture.
Davis and representatives of Visit Baton Rouge, the city's tourism marketing group, said Friday's show is sold out but a few tickets remain for Saturday and Sunday.
Renee Areng, executive vice president of Visit Baton Rouge, said the festival appears to be living up to the city's expectations.
"It's a very unique opportunity to hear some of the top musicians in the world in one of the top stadiums in the world," Areng said.
Davis said the event's first year generated an estimated $35.5 million for the state's economy, with about $12 million going directly into Baton Rouge. "This year, there will be a lot more," he said.
A free fan-fest is planned before the stadium gates open for the ticketed concerts. That event will feature a meet-and-greet with some of the main-stage performers. The fan-fest runs from 2-6 p.m. Friday and 11:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

CHEVEL JOHNSON, Associated Press

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