By Mindy Ragan Wood
Rock the Route will bring to Yukon two headliner bands that are part of the growing country red dirt subgenre in Texas.
The Josh Abbot Band and Casey Donahew have hits on the radio in the Red Dirt country craze and will perform for the festival on Aug. 30 located along Route 66.
Nathan Cross, manager of Grady’s Pub, helps get class-acts on the hook for the show.
“We’ve got big ties with Nashville with Grady’s (Cross) being part of the Cross Canadian Ragweed,” Cross said. “Red Dirt music has a hometown feel and lot of the songs are about growing up in Oklahoma or Texas. Most of the them write their own songs, about experiences they witnessed themselves.”
Texas has become a kind of subgenre of red dirt country music. Red dirt music is named for the red dirt of Oklahoma and its origin is generally accepted as having been born in Stillwater and the father of the sound is singer-songwriter Bob Childers.
Cross said he chooses his bands carefully and based on feedback from the crowd at the Rock the Route concerts every year.
“I listen to see who they’re talking about and who they want to see next year. I try to bring the people what they want. I’m out in the crowd the whole time and getting lot of opinions. So far, the reactions has been that it’s real good show,” Cross said.
The concert draws people from the Oklahoma City metro area, but even from out of state.
“We get people driving up from Texas to see these shows. I saw someone from Arkansas coming up the other day on Facebook. These guys put on a good show and they get a following,” Cross said. “We’re expecting at least 10,000 people.”
Performers aren’t the only ones who gain a following.
“Food trucks have their own following,” Assistant City Manager Tammy Kretchmar said.
“People find out where they’re going to be and show up.”
At least 10 food trucks will be set up along with kids craft and game areas. New to the festival this year will be fireworks.
“We are having fireworks at the end of the show,” Kretchmar said. “We wanted to add something new and at one of our biggest events, Freedom fest, fireworks were very popular at that event. Every year it just gets better and we ask ourselves, ‘how are we going to top this?’”
Free events for children will include the ThunderBolt exhibit, with interactive stations where fans can measure up to Thunder Players, play a trivia game, and take a photo in the custom fan booth. Yukon Parks and Recreation employees will be on hand with bubble toys.
Paid activities for children will include a riding mechanical bull, rock wall climbing, inflatables and face painting and body art.
The family friendly event has been popular for dog lovers too, but this year dogs will not be allowed.
“It seems like there have been quite a few injuries (dog bites) in Yukon and in the (OKC) metro area,” Kretchmar said. “It’s for the safety of people who come to the event and we don’t want anyone to get hurt.”
Services animals will be allowed.