The 2019 Foothills Festival has only been in the books for a little more than a week, but officials with the festival say they are already beginning the planning stages for the 2020 version.
Officials are taking feedback from this year and previous years to improve on the already wildly popular two-day music festival that is continuing to improve its attendance.
The festival brought more than 30,000 people to downtown Jasper between Friday, Sept. 6 and Saturday, Sept. 7.
“We are very pleased with the 2019 version of Foothills,” Jasper Mayor David O’Mary said. “There is no doubt it was our biggest production and it generated our biggest weekend ever.”
Lisa Myers, special events coordinator for the city, echoed this year’s festival was the biggest yet as far as attendance numbers.
“I met people from all over Alabama, but also from Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, California and Florida, just to name a few areas,” she said. “There were also vendors that were local and from across the Southeast. That says a lot for the Foothills Festival, the City of Jasper and our community as a whole.”
Brent McCarver, revenue compliance officer for the city, said business partners are the lifeline of the festival, providing the dollars and services for it to take place and run smoothly.
“I can’t say enough about our partners. They step up each year to enable us to bring tremendous acts to the state,” he said. “Foothills is about showcasing our city and bringing commerce to downtown. It was a huge success in both those areas.”
O’Mary said the support from the community was tremendous in 2019.
“We had more community support this year, both financially and from volunteers, than we have ever had with more than 46 local businesses partnered with the city and more than 30 volunteers working the festival alongside our city employees. This is truly a community event,” O’Mary said.
McCarver added the Rotary Club of Jasper, the Kiwanis Club of Jasper, The Chamber of Commerce of Walker County and Jasper Main Street all provided funds and volunteers.
“The mayor has asked us to build a template for a grand event, and we think we have done that,” McCarver said. “The response from the public has been positive; the bands and vendors are pleased and enjoyed coming. We know what we need to do each year to work within our frame and provide a fun, safe and exciting event that the people of Jasper and surrounding areas get to enjoy. And it is all free thanks to our partners.”
The heat proved to be an issue with some festival goers in 2019, Myers said.
“I know it was hot. Most of us were there from the beginning on Friday to the end on clean-up early Sunday morning, but it was well worth it to me,” she said. “We have talked about, weighed the options on moving the date of Foothills many times because of the heat. Other cities within our county and other areas across the state already have most dates established for their festivals. To intrude on their set dates would not be very neighborly, courteous or professional, and that is what we look at. After all, we live in the South in the great state of Alabama. It’s hot, and we can’t control Mother Nature.”
O’Mary commended the work of the Jasper fire and police departments during the event. The fire department treated many who become overheated at the event, while police provided security and only had to make one arrest during the festival.
“I thought our police and fire did an excellent job,” he said. “We believe we had somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000 people come to town and we only had one instance that had to be dealt with. I know our folks were working hard with a great plan and it showed.”
The success of the festival can also be attributed to the artists brought in each year. Zach Baker, talent buyer for the festival and advertising sales consultant at the Daily Mountain Eagle, said he tries to find artists who fit well in our region.
“I think the lineup was spot on for this market,” he said. “Whiskey Myers is such a popular band right now, and Blues Traveler has that name and people know them for playing festivals. All the artists did a tremendous job and had wonderful things to say about their experience in Jasper. Our community shows these guys hospitality like nowhere else.”
McCarver said Baker and Myers do a great job working together to bring the musicians and the vendors to the festival.
“Zach Baker does an incredible job with talent. I have really enjoyed working with him and getting to know him. We have a strong connection to the music industry in Zach. And Lisa Myers has a good plan for operating with a growing list of vendors each year. I am proud to be a small part of this team,” he said.
Myers said planning for the 2020 Foothills Festival is already taking place.
“Brent and I began on the 2019 festival about two or three days following the 2018 festival, and that is what we are doing again this year,” she said.
Baker said he is already scouting talent and contacting bands for next year as well.
“Our turnout was great this year, so I have to do my best to keep bringing artist who will draw that kind of crowd,” he said. “This is a lot of work for all of us who put it together, but it’s kind of a labor of love that I enjoy doing for our community.”