MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - It's hard to believe Carolina Country Music Fest 2017 is just around the corner. CCMF has been adding new artists to this year's line-up each day this week, but many want to know who the last headliner will be.
For the first time, the Thursday night festival kick-off headliner will perform on the main stage, CCMF owner Bob Durkin said. He said to expect the announcement within the next two weeks, and they're 'big.'
Durkin promises an even bigger and better line-up than last year. He said more bands are helping achieve that goal, with plans for about 43 bands to play this year. Last year, Durkin said the festival hosted 35 bands. However, he said he couldn't be more excited for the headliners. The festival's excitement kicked off back in September when the first headliner, Kenny Chesney, was announced. The other two are Entertainer of the Year, Jason Aldean and South Carolina native, Darius Rucker. Aldean was announced in October, and Rucker's announcement followed in November.
To accommodate more bands and larger crowds, a third stage will be added at Jack Daniels tent.
As of today, twelve artists have been announced for CCMF. Durkin said a lot has changed since he started the festival three years ago.
"I had to do a lot of convincing the first year. A lot of trips to Nashville, talking to people...telling them why it was going to be a great festival. You know, a lot of people took a chance on us and Myrtle Beach...and a lot of people decided to play our festival because they wanted to play the market," Durkin said.
Now, top country artists are asking Durkin perform.
"Last year, Kenny Chesney's management called me. They sent me an email saying don't you think Kenny would be great for this. So, it's really come 360...some of the largest talent out there, country talent in the world is reaching out to us to see if they'd be a good fit...because you know, I think the response and the fans have been phenomenal and I think the artists who have played there have had great experiences. They've gone back and shared their experiences with other artists, with their label and who have, in turn, told other artists, so," Durkin explained.
It's not often you can attend the concert of the King of Beach Country actually on the beach, but it's happening in Myrtle Beach. Besides the big names, Durkin said the festival is expanding its reach to fans. CCMF has advertised more than ever before, specifically in the northeast, he said. Ohio, West Virginia, New York and Pennsylvania have been targeted by advertisers through social media, Nash Radio and iHeartRadio. He said one reason headliners were announced earlier this year was to give people traveling the farthest time to plan, and hopefully decide to make a longer vacation in the Myrtle Beach area.
Security and crowd interaction is working to be improved to accommodate larger crowds, Durkin said. CCMF organizers have been meeting with police and fire department officials monthly since November to create a better and safer experience for everyone. Durkin said the event wouldn't run nearly as smooth without them.
Good news for general admission tickets holders: Durkin said three or four additional big screens will be added to the field and an improved sound system.
Most of all, Durkin said the festival will stick to its Carolina roots. Besides Darius Rucker, Durkin said he looks for artists with Carolina connections.
"One of the reasons on why I make the decisions on who's going to play...Lee Brice is coming, he went to Clemson, he's from South Carolina, you know...and Darius Rucker went to South Carolina, he's from South Carolina. Parmalee's playing...they're from the east coast, went to Eastern Carolina. From the bottom to the top the Carolinas will be well represented and we really like to make that happen and you know, really, the artists love to play places that they went, and vacationed in high school. You know, their senior trip...and they've all kind of commented on those things," Durkin said.
Carolina Country Music Fest is set to run from Thursday, June 9th to Sunday, June 11.