Bob Romeo wanted Doug Corey to meet someone.
Corey was in Cheyenne, Wyoming, with the Round-Up Court for Frontier Days, and the promoter wanted to introduce the Eastern Oregon contingent to a musical act he booked for the rodeo.
This was as the young musician was becoming the best-selling solo album artist in the United States, going from a bar singer in Oklahoma to one of the biggest names in country music — Garth Brooks.
Corey and Romeo formed a working relationship after that, with the Romeo Entertainment Group eventually booking acts for the Round-Up kickoff concert.
When Corey and business owner Andy McAnally decided to start the Pendleton Whisky Music Fest, they turned to the promotion agency to help them book the talent.
Corey’s connection to Romeo is paying especially big dividends for the second annual whisky fest, which is attracting an audience to match the city of Pendleton’s population to see headliners Maroon 5.
“You need to have some connections in this industry to get the big acts,” Corey said.
McAnally announced Wednesday that Whisky Fest was officially sold out and had sold 30 percent more tickets than it had the year before for the Zac Brown Band-headlined concert.
With the talent booked and ready to go, Corey and McAnally will rely on another hired hand to handle the production.
Production manager Johnny Setser traveled from Pueblo, Colorado, to coordinate the set-up and tear-down of the show. A longtime member of the industry, Setser said he oversees productions around the country, including the Academy of Country Music Awards.
Looking out onto the verdant grass of the Round-Up Arena, Setser said the venue shouldn’t pose any major challenges to staging a large-scale concert.
The stage rolled onto the Round-Up Grounds on a semi-truck Thursday morning, a large box that will mechanically expand over several hours. The production crew will spend the ensuing time adding the lights, video screen and additional staging.
Setser said the setup will be a little different this year, but nothing that will be noticeable to the average audience member. And there will be no pyrotechnics.
With a larger audience coming into town and a Main Street kick-off event added to the revelry, local hotels and restaurants must stay prepared.
America’s Best Value Inn owner Arun Butta said customers started booking rooms as soon as Maroon 5 was announced as the headliner in early March. The rooms for Saturday are now booked solid and even Friday’s rooms are mostly filled.
The Southeast Court Avenue motel is less than a mile away from the Round-Up Grounds.
Butta said this year’s event definitely feels bigger than the inaugural concert and it’s his business’ responsibility to make sure their stay in Pendleton is a good one.
As soon as Maroon 5 leaves the stage, Setser’s crew will immediately begin disassembling equipment.
By Sunday, the arena should look like it did at the beginning of the week, the only evidence of a massive concert coming from some disturbed grass.
Contact Antonio Sierra at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0836.