Rockin’ River kicks off Thursday

The fifth annual event is bringing the biggest country stars to Mission

Brad Paisley performs Aug. 16 at Rockin' River in Mission.

Alina Konevski

Mission Record

 

Country music superstars and tens of thousands of fans from all over the continent are about to descend upon the District of Mission.

The fifth annual Rockin’ River Music Fest is returning to the Mission Raceway Park this week. But this year, the stage and campsite are three times larger than in 2012.

“It’s probably the biggest festival that’s ever come to the Lower Mainland,” said Kenny Hess, co-owner of Rockin’ River Productions, and himself an acclaimed country and western musician performing at the festival. “They’re going to hear some of the best country music in the world.”

On the roster is multi-Grammy award winning artist Brad Paisley, whose latest album, Wheelhouse, deputed at number one on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart. If even a fraction of Paisley’s two million Twitter followers show up at Rockin’ River, Hess will be right about this being the Lower Mainland’s biggest show ever.

And Paisley is just the start of a sensational line-up.

“This is the first year we’ve really stepped up and drawn from the ‘A’ pool. We’ve taken front-line artists,” said Hess.

The party cowboys, Big & Rich, are set to deliver their signature original and electric show. Chris Young represents the next generation in country music talent. Emerson Drive will show exactly why they’ve been collecting music awards and nominations like matchboxes.

And kicking off the festival on Thursday, Aug. 15, is none other than Trooper, one of Canada’s top-selling bands of all time.

There are more than a dozen other big names and up-and-comers set to light up the festival.

Hess is expecting 30,000 people over the weekend. Attendance has exploded, doubling every year since inception.

The festival has received reservations from as far as Florida, Hawaii, the Yukon, and Newfoundland and Labrador. But Hess would still love to see more locals as Rockin’ River becomes a mainstay in the district.

“We’d love for Mission to see this little jewel they have right here,” he said.

Hess has ramped up the production in anticipation of a huge uptake in audience numbers. This year’s massive stage is like a five-storey building, he says. That’s in line with Hess’ “if you build it, they will come” mentality.

A total of 1,200 campsites are scattered around the venue, with 300 still up for grabs.

Rockin’ River Music Fest will be held from Thursday, Aug. 15, to Saturday, Aug. 17. In true all-ages, family-friendly fashion, kids aged 12 and under are free.

Full festival schedule and ticket info is at rockinriverfest.com.