ST. GEORGE — The 99.9 KONY Country “4th of July Celebration” may be right around the corner, but plans have been in the works practically since last year for this annual St. George event. It takes months of planning, thousands of dollars and several days of stage construction to organize a concert this big.
The concert, which is being hosted by 99.9 KONY Country, will feature country singers Scotty McCreery and Tim Gates, and will also include food trucks, concessions and the biggest fireworks show in Southern Utah for Independence Day.
While the celebration and concert will be enjoyed by the thousands of revelers in just a few hours, what happens behind the scenes is a months-long process to make sure everything comes together smoothly and on time, said Marty Lane, a radio personality on 99.9 KONY Country who helped organize the celebration.
“People have no idea what actually goes into a concert. It’s hard work.”
This year’s concert and celebration costs $135,000, an amount Lane said will most likely not be recouped.
“We’ve lost money on every single concert we’ve done — every Fourth of July. Concerts don’t make a lot of money.”
Lane said he used to regularly organize concerts as part of his job and once lost $18,000 of his own money. But the purpose of the 99.9 KONY Country 4th of July Celebration is not to make money. The purpose is to provide a community event for people to come together and have a good time.
Step 1: Book the singer
The first step in getting the concert organized was booking McCreery, which happened back in January, Lane said.
“(Booking an artist) is kind of similar to buying a house; you have to make an offer. You say ‘Hey, I’ll pay you this much for a show on the Fourth of July’ and you have to tell them what you’re doing, how many seats there are, how much tickets will cost — there’s a lot that goes into it.”
Step 2: Build the stage
Once McCreery was booked, concert organizers have to figure out how to provide the lights, sound system and stage, which is not provided by the artist’s team, Lane said. Another contract is needed for the infrastructure of the concert, which is done through a company in Idaho.
The stage company will arrive three days before the concert to start building the stage, putting up the lights and setting up the speakers.
“If you can imagine working in 110-degree heat, it’s not the funnest thing to do,” Lane said. “It’ll take four guys from the production company and about eight more stagehand to put that whole thing together.”
Step 3: Perfect the details
Doing a sound check to make sure the music will be even throughout the stadium and getting all the instruments set up on the stage will be done the morning before the concert.
“This is a process that takes hours to get just right,” Lane said.
There are so many more things to organize, like the box office, advertising, volunteers to work at the concert, generators for power, security and concessions.
The free fireworks show immediately after the concert is put on by the city of St. George, so that’s one thing Lane said he won’t have to worry too much about.
Step 4: Clean house, pack up
“After the show is done, then they have to tear it all down and they do it all in one night,” Lane said. “It takes three days to set up and one night to tear it all down. And then they’re off driving to the next town for the next show.”
99.9 KONY Country has organized a concert like this for July Fourth every year for 30 years. It started out as a community talent show and has grown bigger each year.
With the headlining singer at the 2018 concert being McCreery, a 24-year-old singer famous for winning American Idol in 2011, Lane said this concert and celebration is shaping up to be the biggest one yet. The venue, Dixie State University’s Trailblazer Stadium, also has a new grandstand on the east side, which will add a lot more seating room for the concert.
“The plan for next year is to go even bigger,” Lane said.
Tickets for the 99.9 KONY Country 4th of July Celebration, which Lane said are already about 80 percent sold out, are available online. The doors for the event will open at 6 p.m. on July 4, the concert starts at 8 p.m., and the fireworks will launch at 10 p.m.
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