Lexington's biggest annual "boom" has a new address and date to uncork its July Fourth weekend fun.
Next month, the marathon country music and fireworks festival known as Red, White and Boom is moving out of downtown and into the cozier confines of Whitaker Bank Ballpark, where the Lexington Legends play. It will also be presented July 2, a Saturday, instead of its traditional setting on July 4, which falls on a Monday this year.
"Our goal when we started Red, White and Boom was to develop a music festival-style event based around the Fourth of July weekend," said Michael Jordan, an executive at the Lexington operations of radio company and event organizer Clear Channel. "But the problem we had was that every year, with the event being in the middle of summer and 90 degree temperatures, it just got very, very hot."
This year, the stage will be against the outfield wall, "so you're going to have a huge grass area," Jordan added. "People will be able to lay blankets out and enjoy the day and not have to sit on a hot blacktop parking lot."
The change came after the people at Whitaker Bank Ballpark "basically called us and said, 'We're interested in being part of this.' "
And so Red, White & Boom — which this year will feature country stars Craig Morgan, David Nail and Heidi Newfield as headline performers and WBUL-98.1 FM as a co-sponsor — has a new home. But can a modest-size ballpark accommodate the 10,000-plus fans who are used to packing into the event's previous locale behind Rupp Arena?
"We had some concerns about the facility's size," Jordan said. "But we worked with the fire department and actually have the capacity up there to about 15,000."
There is also the matter of timing. By staging the event on July 2, Red, White and Boom is officially breaking ranks with Lexington's Fourth of July festivities. Jordan, however, said having Red, White and Boom on a Saturday with the downtown pageantry on Monday, July 4, is more like "supersizing" the holiday weekend celebration.
"Moving Red, White and Boom to a Saturday night just allows everybody to participate. And we're doubling up the fireworks. On Saturday, you're going to have an all-day festival and fireworks that night," he said.
The last change will target pocketbooks, but only modestly. Usually a free event, Red, White and Boom this year will charge a $5 admission.
"If you look at the amount of time the show is going to go (from noon to 10 p.m.), $5 is not much to ask," Jordan said. "I can't remember the last time a show rolled into town for $5 that had 10 national artists and one local act (Eddie Barber) in addition to fireworks."