What to know about the festival’s return

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What to know about the festival’s return
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Alabama’s Rock the South festival will be back on Aug. 13-14, organizers announced today. The lineup for the festival in Cullman hasn’t been revealed, but artist announcements will start on April 5, they said.

The festival, which specializes in country and Southern rock music, was canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. In April of last year, organizers announced they’d reschedule for June 4-5, 2021, but those dates were pushed back to August.

“With the recent announcements made concerning Alabama’s mask ordinance ending on April 9 as well as the University of Alabama’s decision to return to traditional in-classroom instruction for fall 2021 and plans to open Bryant-Denny Stadium to full capacity for football games, we are following models that predict COVID-19 herd immunity will be achieved by late spring or early summer,” Shane Quick, one of the owners of Rock the South, said via a press release. “We feel confident that we are on the right track to safely hold our outdoor event in August.”

COVID policies and protocols haven’t been announced, but organizers for Rock the South said they would follow guidelines from the Alabama Department of Public Health and the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Details will be provided on the festival website, they said.

The festival is held on about 140 acres at 1872 Cullman County 469, a location it’s had since 2019. Before that, Rock the South took place at Heritage Park, a smaller location at 1705 Lee Ave. Southwest in Cullman.

Tickets for Rock the South 2021 go on sale on April 9 at 8 a.m. CT. (A pre-sale starts on April 8, according to the festival website.) Prices haven’t been announced. Ticket buyers who held on to their 2020 tickets will be emailed tickets for the 2021 festival by April 19, organizers said.

Last year, presale prices for two-day tickets were $79.99 general admission, $149.99 Platinum, $309.99 VIP, $599.99 Ultimate VIP and $599.99 for Front Porch Seating. Various perks were attached to the upper-level tickets, such as seating close to the stage, air-conditioned restrooms, private bars and a separate entrance. Weekend parking passes cost $50 apiece in 2020. Premium RV parking was $550; camping was $150.

Rock the South would have celebrated its ninth year in 2020, but the pandemic changed all that. The talent lineup for last year included Luke Combs, Eric Church. the Brothers Osborne, Ashley McBryde, Diamond Rio and Tracy Byrd.

Organizers didn’t promise the same lineup for 2021. When the cancellation was announced, they said the lineup was subject to change, depending on the availability of artists.

Rock the South — officially known as Pepsi Rock the South — is owned and produced by Nathan Baugh of 46 Entertainment and Quick of Premier Productions.

Rock the South started off small in 2012, with a single-day lineup that featured Dierks Bentley, Kellie Pickler, Brent Cobb and Jon Pardi. The festival changed significantly in 2013, when the new team of organizers replaced the City of Cullman and its parks department. Birmingham’s Jay Barker and Sara Evans were co-owners of the event in 2013-2015, along with Quick, but left the partnership after three years.

Rock the South has continued to change and grow over its history, presenting performers such as Eric Church, Little Big Town, Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, Hank Williams Jr., Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt, Maren Morris, Alan Jackson, The Band Perry, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Morgan Wallen, Brooks & Dunn and more. Despite its name, the festival leans to bro-country and country pop, mixed with some traditional country and Southern rock.

Rock the South has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for area charities during its tenure, organizers have said. Beneficiaries have included Cullman City Parks and Recreation, The Link of Cullman County and Cullman Caring for Kids.

The festival experienced some growing pains in 2019, however, with the advent of a new site. Moving to the acreage off Cullman County 469 caused prolonged traffic snarls, delays and frustrations for fans on roads leading into the festival. The new location was meant to accommodate the growing crowds — more than 65,000 people were expected in 2019, organizers said — and allow for camping, RV parking and more on-site parking.

Organizers pledged to listen to complaints, improve the traffic flow and make things better for festivalgoers.

Also, a 30-year-old man, Rob Clemmons, was injured in a hit-and-run while walking on Cullman County 469 less than a mile away from the festival in 2019. Rock the South offered a $10,000 reward for information on the driver involved in the crash, and expressed support for the victim’s family. (”We’ve talked multiple times to the family,’’ festival owner Baugh said, “and we stand with them.”) A suspect was later arrested and jailed without bond; Clemmons was reported to have a fractured neck.

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