Some of country music's big names, including Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Darius Rucker and Zac Brown Band, take the stage at the Bayou Country Superfest at LSU's Tiger Stadium for a Memorial Day holiday jamfest.
The festival's producer, Quint Davis, said the talent and the free fan fest held before the nightly concerts help to entice attendees. In its fourth year, the festival drew 75,000 people last year.
"We're really excited," said Davis, whose company Festival Productions Inc. produces the Superfest and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. "We've worked all year to get to these two days. But as excited as we are, the most excited are the artists themselves."
Headlining Saturday are Lady Antebellum, Lambert, Rucker, who has a No. 1 country hit with "Wagon Wheel," and Aaron Lewis, the former frontman for rock band Staind. Lewis is appearing as a solo artist, promoting his album "The Road," which was released last year.
The two-day festival concludes Sunday with performances by Zac Brown, Luke Bryan and The Band Perry.
Davis said Zac Brown and Bryan, have played the Superfest before and know what to expect, but Lambert and Lady Antebellum have not.
"They've heard about it though," he said of the festival newbies. "It's grown to be known and respected as one of the greatest venues for this genre. I think that goes to the audience. "
Renee Areng, executive vice president of Visit Baton Rouge, said the festival has a $30 million impact on the state.
"Traditionally, Baton Rouge residents would head to the beach over Memorial Day weekend. This festival has encouraged them to stay in town and attend the festival. We're also getting those who drive and fly in," she said.
Fans from as far as Canada, Mexico, France and Norway have been counted in the attendance numbers, helping to transform Baton Rouge into a destination city, Areng said.
"Country music is not a niche industry. It's very mainstream. We've found that it's not a small percentage of people listening to country artists. The draw is huge" she said.
Hotel revenues have increased nearly 300 percent since the festival began, going from $1.3 million in 2009 to $2.9 million last year, she noted.
Both days include a free fan fest before the gates open for the ticketed concerts that also will include performances by Thompson Square, Rodney Atkins and Frankie Ballard.
The fan fest features Louisiana artists including the Kyle Turley Band, Yvette Landry, Jaryd Lane and the Parish, Mark Adam Miller, the Chase Tyler Band and Gal Holiday & The Honky Tonk Revue.