Officials with the Grayson County Regional Mobility Authority tabled a request Thursday to hold a proposed music festival — that may include headliner Dwight Yoakam — at North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field next April. The move came amid questions of safety and logistics. Event organizer Kevin Couch announced plans for the Buck Owens Music Festival this week, with NTRA listed as the top choice for a venue.
The event is to be named after famous country musician Buck Owens, who was born in Sherman in the late 1920s. Owens is known for popularizing the “Bakersfield sound” style of country music, and had 21 No. 1 hits on the Billboard country music charts. Owens also co-hosted the television program “Hee Haw” from 1969 through 1986.
Couch said the contract with the primary headliner was mostly in place, but the announcement would likely not come until early next year. Couch gave some hints as to the musician’s identity when he noted the artist is male, has sold more than 25 million albums worldwide and has had five No. 1 albums in his career. Regarding genre, Couch said the musician is most well known for performing ’90s country music.
“He has walked the streets of Bakersfield with Buck Owens,” Couch said during the meeting.
In 1988, Owens recorded a duet of his song “Streets of Bakersfield” with Yoakam. That song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and the magazine lists Yoakam as having five No. 1 albums in his career, including three U.S. No. 1 country albums, one Canadian No. 1, and one U.S. independent album No. 1. Yoakam’s official Facebook page says he has sold more than 25 million albums worldwide.
When asked whether Yoakam was the headliner for the music festival, Couch said he could not confirm the identity of the headliner until January due to a radius clause in the contract.
In tabling the request, airport officials said they would like additional time to consider locations where a concert could be held, the impact it would have on airport operations, and other legal and logistical questions before committing NTRA as a venue.
“We need these events in the area, but we are just not sure this is the best venue,” GCRMA Chairman Robert Brady said during Thursday’s meeting.
During Thursday’s meeting, Couch said there had been several venues discussed, but NTRA was a top choice due to its size and location. Couch noted that NTRA has previously hosted similar musical events, including several charity concerts by Reba McEntire.
For the event, Couch said he would like to be able to utilize a paved area for the two stages where musicians will play. While there were several locations that could hold the estimated 7,000 people who could attend the concert, Couch said few offered the potential space and parking that NTRA does. As a secondary option, Couch said the parking lot of Midway Mall likely would also fit the need.
At NTRA, airport officials said apron space near the airport’s terminal building likely would meet the need, but officials expressed concerns of whether the event would delay or hinder the operations of the airport. All members of the board opposed the possibility of closing the airport for the event, noting it would impact major tenants including US Aviation.
“I am not asking you to shut down the entire airport, I feel that is a bit far-fetched,” Couch said. “There is enough land out here to stage and have people.”
Other concerns raised by the board and airport officials concerned trash and security during the event. Couch said there would be staff on hand during and after the event to collect any trash that might be left. Airport officials noted this would need to take place during the event as well if aircraft operations were still taking place. If a piece of garbage was blown into an airplane engine, it could cause serious damage, officials said.
“First off, Kevin, I don’t want you to think we are not supportive of this,” Brady said. “We are very supportive of holding this somewhere, we are just not sure this is it.”
Another concern that was raised during Thursday’s meeting was regarding the proposed sale of alcohol. Couch said he has been in talks with a major sponsor who would like to offer sales during the event. However, due to its location, the event would not be able to sell alcohol, officials said. Despite this, Couch said he did not feel this would hinder the event or negotiations, noting that the sponsor may be able to offer free drinks instead.
Ultimately, the board voted to table the discussions on the concert to give officials more time to discuss the options and logistics of holding the event. Despite not having the event immediately approved, Couch said he was still happy with the discussion Thursday, and saw tabling as a possibility.
“I am thrilled that our RMA and our county is even entertaining this being an option,” Couch said. “No pun intended, the plane hasn’t landed yet on this.”
For the concert, Couch said he had enlisted professional entertainment booking services through Overdrive Entertainment, who has worked on Sherman’s Hot Summer Nights and Denison’s Music on Main concert events. He said the festival will be led by two headlining artists with another eight to 10 local and regional artists performing.
“I was talking with my good friend and fellow musician Ben Vincent, and I thought he brought up a great point: Why don’t we do more to remember Sherman’s most famous citizen,” Couch said in a news release issued Monday. “We tossed around the idea of raising money for a statue, but I thought it would be an even cooler tribute to do something that was alive — something that reflected his musical contributions to the genre.”