Los Angeles’ debut Tailgate Fest puts a celebrated past time at the center of a country music festival. For Labor Day Weekend this year, country music fans will be able to flock to the Forum in Los Angeles to spend all day listening to their favorite tunes, line dancing, and playing games, all from the comfort of their own tailgate setup.
“When you’re in that tailgate culture, tailgaters all have the same issue which is we don’t want to stop tailgating when the show starts. We don’t want to have to pack up our trucks and our cars and coolers and barbecues,” said founder Melissa Carbone. “I started doing the research and learned that it is a $60 billion industry that nobody is jumping on it in this way.”
The inaugural festival will feature a headlining performance on Sept. 1 from country music superstar Toby Keith. Other performers will include Nelly, Joe Nichols, David Nail, Jana Kramer and Parmalee with more to be announced.
“It is kind of surreal. I don’t know how many first year festivals get to have a legendary superstar as their headliner,” Carbone said. “That was the beginning of us realizing we were going to have something pretty special. I think tailgate when I think Toby Keith.”
The idea behind the festival is to bring the stage truck-side, according to Carbone. While tailgating is typically the by product of a sporting event or music festival, Carbone wants to make chilling in the bed of a truck the nucleus of the event.
“We’ll have a full lineup of some of the biggest country artists in the world. If you want to stay in the bed of your pickup truck drinking beer out of your cooler, having your hamburger on your grill while you watch Toby Keith on stage, you can do that,” Carbone told Amplify. “If you want to get up from your truck and walk up to the stage, you can do that.”
The festival grounds completely surround the Forum, taking over several parking lots and the space across the street that will eventually be home to the new NFL Rams stadium. All fans will have access to the 15,000-person capacity GA pit in front of the stage while VIP tailgaters and some GA tailgaters will have a view of the stage from their vehicles. Others can take advantage of the jumbotrons and monitors sprinkled throughout the grounds to view the stage activity.
Fans can also purchase VIP passes to lounge in a pool directly to the right of the stage or bring lawn chairs for an elevated viewing platform right in front of the stage.
“Part of what is going to make this special and different is that we are building a world. It will have an Americana, small-town feeling, red-neck centric world, if you will, plopped right in the center of this big city,” Carbone said.
In addition to music, attendees can participate in The Tailgate Cornhole World Championships or enter to be named “Best in Show” for the Jacked Up Truck Competition, whose winner will take home a brand new geared-up truck.
“We’re finding these hot buttons in this culture and trying to jump on those nerves,” Carbone said. “Whenever you go to a tailgate, especially if it is country music genre festival, there is this one-ups-manship in their trucks. People roll in and it is, who truck is lifted higher, who has the biggest tires, who has the best soundbar, who built a keg-orator into the bed of their truck.”
Tailgate Fest is also building the indoor Two Step Honky Tonk for attendees to line dance and enter competitions throughout the day. A dunk tank will be among the festivities and those who get tired of grilling hot dogs can run over to food and beverage trucks that will be open on site.
For more information on the first-ever Tailgate Fest and to buy tickets, head here.