Festival welcomes hometown stars, big names
By Mike Cook
Las Cruces Bulletin
When Las Cruces Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB; also known as Visit Las Cruces) Executive Director Phillip San Filippo heard the No. 1 and No. 2 songs on the Texas country music chart last December, he knew he had to invite both artists to participate in this year’s Las Cruces Country Music Festival.
After all, they are both Las Cruces natives: Bri Bagwell and Josh Grider.
In addition to performing, both will be doing some emcee chores as well. Grider will host the festival’s salute to local musicians on Friday, April 29, and Bagwell will be the host on Saturday, April 30.
In addition to Grider and Bagwell, performers include the Nitty Gritty Dirty Band, Rick Trevino, Lee Ann Womack, David Nail, Cam and Aaron Watson.
The festival will have a north stage and a south stage in the Downtown area.
Last year’s festival drew about 5,000 visitors each night, and “ticket sales seem to be ahead of last year,” San Filippo said. Now in its fourth year, the festival has increased in attendance every year, he said.
“People know what to expect from the festival, now in its fourth year, so they are not afraid to buy tickets in advance,” he said.
The festival, San Filippo said, has become a signature event not only for Las Cruces, but for the entire state and the region.
“That’s quite frankly what we’re trying to accomplish,” he said. It’s “one of the best festivals in the area.”
San Filippo said the festival was purposefully scheduled the last weekend in April to coincide with the New Mexico State University NIRA (National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association) rodeo, which will be held at NMSU. Residents and visitors can attend both the festival and the rodeo for less than the price of a “country music concert anywhere else,” he said.
In fact, the festival pass and VIP pass include admission to the rodeo.
The festival also coincides with Avenue Art street painting festival Downtown (Saturday morning and early afternoon, April 30), and the Farmers and Crafts Market downtown that same day.
The Country Music Festival also will have a kids’ area that includes free activities for children. And, there will be a special wounded warrior veterans’ area.
A New Mexico True section will include vendors from the area and around the state offering “everything that’s New Mexico,” San Filippo said, including local pecans, chile and arts and crafts.
San Filippo said he is looking forward to hearing Grider at the festival, along with Bagwell performing her song, “Las Cruces” which has already received 120,000plus hits on social media; Cam’s performance of her Grammy- and Country Music Association- nominated song “Burning House”; Lee Ann Womack’s legendary “I Hope You Dance”; and the 50th anniversary of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. “I remember ‘American Dream’ and ‘Mr. Bo Jangles’ when they came out,” he said.
Bagwell and Grider have gained “a lot of notoriety” as country music performers, San Filippo said. But they are “still home-town folks. They really care about this community. They know where their roots are. They’re both very loyal people.”
For more information about the festival, visit http://www.lascrucescountrymusic.com. For more information about the NMSU rodeo, visit http://aces.nmsu.edu/ rodeo/.