FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. (WKRG) — A two-day country music festival will be held this fall on Okaloosa Island. For its inaugural year, The Boardwalk Country Music Beach Festival will be free for general admission.
MT Productions is hosting the festival in partnership with the Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island. Okaloosa County local and organizer Tripp Tolbert said he wants to create something the locals can be proud of.
“By bringing this type concert series back and we want to provide the first one free, our main goal is to show the Commissioners and all the constitutional officers in Okaloosa County and mainly the citizens, that we can bring a quality venue to this area without impeding or interrupting their normal everyday life,” said Tolbert.
- WHEN: Nov. 4 and 5, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
- WHERE: The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island
- COST: General admission is FREE
Why host a festival in November?
Most music festivals along the Gulf Coast are hosted in the spring and summer months. Tolbert said he wanted to make this a fall event to focus on the locals.
“November is towards the end of hurricane season, so we wanted to try to do this where we wouldn’t get caught up in the middle of a tropical storm,” said Tolbert. “Hurricane is one of the reasons and two it’s a shoulder season month and we just mainly want the locals to enjoy it. because. We’re trying to give something back to our local residents and they can come out, and enjoy the beach. We just want to do this and show a good time and show families a good time. The kids and parents could come to the same venue without the tourists.”
The festival will start at 4 p.m. each day of the festival, Nov. 4 and 5, with the national anthem and run until 10 p.m. McKinnon said they estimate 3,000-5,000 people to attend the first-year event. Parking and shuttle information can be found on the festival’s official website.
“We’re gonna have it as first come first serve and unless you have a VIP lanyard, we’ll have another area off to the stage for all our VIP,” said McKinnon. “It looks like we probably want people to get here as early as they can to just enjoy the vendor village. The boardwalk opens up at 11. So if you get here early you have the vendor village there, you will have the restaurants open and just enjoy your time so you can get a spot.”
Those attending can bring beach blankets to the venue to sit in the sand but chairs are not allowed. VIP passes will get others in the seating area next to the stage.
Those from the pier, the nearby restaurants, and boats on the water will be able to see and hear the live music.
Moving forward, both Tolbert and McKinnon want this to be a community staple for the fall months, something artists want to perform at.
“We want to crawl before we run and we definitely don’t want to outgrow ourselves because again, our main concern is public safety, Because all this stuff is fun until someone gets hurt and we want this to be a quality event, not only for our concert goers but for the residents,” said Tolbert.
“This is my home. I want to build it so we can look down the line 10 years later and like, hey, this is a great festival, this is our festival and we’re not competing with all the other festivals throughout the summer,” said McKinnon.
Friday’s show will be ‘A Salute to Veterans.’ Country artist Dew Pendleton shared his feelings about performing on that day.
“I’m gonna sing the national anthem in my set somewhere. It’s one of my favorite songs to perform,” said Pendleton. “I do it the Florabama, I do it in Nashville and wherever I’m playing most shows and it’s good to see people just stand up and pay attention and feel the pride to be an American still and the love of your country.”
Pendleton’s music is streamed on iTunes, Spotify, and Youtube. He has performed at venues all over the coast and is excited for Fort Walton beach to have something of its own.
“I think Fort Walton deserves it. Destin gets a lot of attention and then you got Panama City with different venues and music,” said Pendleton. “I think it’s a big shot in the arm for Fort Walton Beach to really have this in their section and I’m just really stoked about it.”