FLORENCE — After being rescheduled twice due to COVID-19, the Country Thunder music festival gets underway on Thursday with four days of music, food, dancing and fun.

And while the country music bands and singers are the stars of the show, it’s the fans who make each event special, said Gerry Krochak, Country Thunder director of communications.

“The people are the best part of Country Thunder,” Krochak said. “It always comes down to the fans.”

Thousands of people are expected to attend the October Arizona Country Thunder event.

Krochak said ticket sales and camping reservations for the fall show are strong at the site northeast of Florence.

“We are nearly sold out of tickets for Country Thunder,” he said. “This show always sells out and we’re down to our final few tickets. Camping sites have been sold out for a while.”

The four-day music festival is traditionally held in April near Florence.

But the April 2020 show was rescheduled for October 2020 due to COVID-19, then rescheduled again for this year due to continuing concerns about the virus in late 2020.

Krochak said fans are eager to return to live events.

“Gathering together to hear live music or watch sporting events is in our DNA,” he said. “Streamed concerts and sporting events with no fans in the seats aren’t the same. It’s the fans who make these events special.”

COVID safety guidelines and protocols will be in place to ensure the safety of those in attendance. Over the summer, Country Thunder held its music festivals in Iowa and Wisconsin, which went well, Krochak said.

Country Thunder also hosts shows in Florida, Nashville and Canada.

Since 2015, Krochak said he’s been to every event in every state.

Arizona is one of his favorites, he said.

“I love coming to Arizona every year,” he said. “I like the desert and the people, so the Arizona show is definitely one of my favorites.”

The Arizona festival will include some of the biggest names in country music. The festival will also feature dozens of food and merchandise vendors from around the country.

On Thursday, music gets underway at 3:30 p.m. with Nolan Sotillo taking to the main stage to kick off the show.

Sotillo is also an actor. He played Lucas Arnez in the 2011 film Prom and appeared the web series Corey & Lucas for the Win!. He sings the song "We Could Be Anything" on Prom's 2011 soundtrack.

Official Audio Video of Nolan Sotillo's "Run With You."

Other Thursday performers on the main stage are:

  • Meghan Patrick at 5 p.m.
  • Filmore at 6:30
  • Mitchell Tenpenny, 8 p.m.
  • Dustin Lynch, 10 p.m.

On Friday, main stage performers are:

  • Drew Gregory, 2 p.m.
  • Austin Jenckes, 3:30 p.m.
  • Seaforth, 5 p.m.
  • Randy Rogers Band, 6:30 p.m.
  • Chris Janson, 8 p.m.
  • Old Dominion, 10 p.m.

The Saturday main stage lineup is:

  • Drew Parker, 2 p.m.
  • Dallas Smith, 3:30 p.m.
  • Parker McCollum, 6:30 p.m.
  • Ashley McBryde, 8 p.m.
  • Luke Combs, 10 p.m.

Sunday, the final day of the festival, includes performances from:

  • Kameron Marlow, 2:30 p.m.
  • Chicks with Hits, 5 p.m.
  • Ernest, 5:30 p.m.
  • Hardy, 7 p.m.
  • Eric Church, 9 p.m.

Those who show a vaccine card at the festival information booth will be entered for a chance to win onstage seating or an autographed Country Thunder 2021 guitar, according to the Country Thunder website.

Tickets are online at countrythunder.com.

Country Thunder lineup
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Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at mstaude@pinalcentral.com.

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