Country Fest kicks off...in the city
Country Fest kicked off Saturday in downtown Albany. But as our Maria Valvanis explains, patrons shared mixed emotions about the festival being miles away from the country.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- WGNA Program Director, Jake Thomas, said, "For the radio station this is Christmas, and it's finally here, so Merry Christmas."
Christmas in July, and a country festival in the city. WGNA is switching things up this year, by kicking off their 19th annual event, at the Times Union Center.
"Country fest should not be in the city, it should be in the country where it belongs," said Kimmie Gokui, Pittsfield resident.
Thomas explained, "There were some difficulties in negotiating the venue this year, so we got together with the city of Albany, which were very gracious to us, and decided to bring the event downtown."
The event is generally held at the Altamont Fairgrounds, and the change in venue means, higher ticket prices, along with limited space. However, it also brings along a free street festival filled with music, treats, and lots of cowboys.
"It's nice to have a free option for people to come and enjoy seven hours of country music for free, prior to the ticketed event," said Thomas.
Regardless, sales for the ticketed event which is headlined by Eric Church, were down and some patrons said they are not sure if they'll be back next year.
"It depends on whose here, that's going to be the deciding factor, where as before I didn't really care, it was the experience," said Gokui.
"I don't care where it is, it's country," said Troy resident, Carol Denton.
Now while people are voicing mixed opens about the change in venue, vendors tell us that the move could actually add on a couple hours of extra work for them.
Vendor Tony Ferone said, "Usually we have all of our equipment right behind our stands, makes things a lot easier, this time, we had to come in the streets, unload everything, and then we'll probably have to wait in line to get loaded back up."
But Thomas tells us, no matter where the event is located in future years, WGNA's goal remains the same.
"It makes us happy to see our listeners out here and see them having a good day, that's what it's about."