Harry Luge

Local favorite Harry Luge will headline the inaugural Florence Music Festival on March 15.

FLORENCE — The inaugural Florence Music Festival is less than two months away, featuring rock bands on March 14 and country acts the following day on the fields near the aquatic center.

Keith Rea, one of the festival managers, said the original idea nine months ago wasn’t to put on an event of this scale. “We just wanted to have a fun weekend with like people.”

But as time went by more people became interested and more businesses became interested in sponsoring it.

“It’s amazing to see all the local residents and businesses getting behind FMF; actually it’s very humbling!” Rea said by email to PinalCentral.

Longtime Country Thunder performer Harry Luge, who has also played at the town’s Road to Country Thunder, will be at the top of the bill.

“Harry’s no stranger to the Florence area and everyone loves him around here, so it was a no-brainer to hire him as our headliner for our country music day on (March 15),” Rea said.

Organizers chose other bands that have played in the area that they’ve heard before and enjoyed and have a following that will help sell tickets. The band Rea plays in, 10th & Main, will headline March 14.

Others playing that first day are Dawson-Green Party of 6, Rockin’ Blue Geckos, The RJ Band and Curt n Rod. Other second-day acts include Ryan and the Renegades, the Highway Outlaws and Backroads.

Besides the music, “We have multiple food trucks and merchandise vendors inquiring about being a vendor on a daily basis, so there will be everyone’s favorite food there and merchandise vendors to meet all your needs. It’ll be great,” Rea said. Two local nonprofits, Florence Little League and the Florence High School Hall of Fame board, will be selling bottled water.

Other attractions include a two-day corn hole tournament with big prizes. On the March 15 morning there will be cowboy church open to the public. Dry camping is available for three nights, starting on March 13 at noon, and there will be a nighttime party in the campground for campers only, which will feature a live band. Campers may bring their own drinks and snacks.

Rea and Bill Foster are both managers of Florence Music Festival LLC, which they formed in 2019. They meet with a group of volunteers, all from Florence, bi-weekly to make sure everything is on schedule and all tasks are getting done.

“Without our volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to put an event of this scale on,” Rea said. “The biggest hurdles that we have encountered to date are all the moving parts required to make this event successful: permits, license, stage, lights, sound, fencing, security, EMTs, etc. It’s a lot of moving parts that most people don’t see and takes a lot of man-hours to make it happen.”

Planning a party

Florence Music Festival started in Rea’s barbershop as he and a member of the Pinal County Mounted Posse began talking about having a party at the Whitlow Rodeo Grounds, with a few live bands and onsite camping. The first meeting was also held in the barbershop, with four people in attendance. Rea eventually realized there would be a lot of moving parts in the equation, and got in contact with Foster.

“I knew he had the know-how and the resources to get the work done, I just had to sell him on the idea. After meeting with the posse a few times, we realized that maybe the rodeo grounds wasn’t the best place to hold the event, due to all the potential dust, so FMF approached the town of Florence’s Parks and Rec Department to see if we could hold it in town. After several meetings with the town, we came to an agreement to hold it on the multipurpose field near the aquatic center,” he said.

Rea said this will be a “family-fun” event. “Bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on and come with a great attitude because we’re here to have fun! Security will be tight: no carry-ins allowed, no backpacks, no ez-up tents, no weapons, etc.” Tickets are on sale at www.florencemusicfest.com or in person at The Chop Shop Barbershop, the Florence Visitor Center and Garrett Motors in Coolidge. Fans can follow the festival on Facebook at @florencemusicfest.

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Mark Cowling is the county reporter for PinalCentral and covers the town of Florence, San Tan Valley and the surrounding area. He can be reached at mcowling@pinalcentral.com.

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