CINCINNATI (AP) — This Ohio River city is going country this weekend, in a big way.
Cincinnati hosts the inaugural "Buckle Up" festival Friday through Sunday, with some 80 acts booked for six stages and tens of thousands of fans expected along the Ohio River. The storied singer Willie Nelson will be among a mix of established and rising stars that includes Alabama, Drive By Truckers, The Band Perry, Jamey Johnson, and Alison Krauss and Union Station.
Meanwhile, the Great American Ball Park, where the Cincinnati Reds play baseball, has two of country music's most popular artists Saturday evening with Jason Aldean and Miranda Lambert. The Aldean-headlined stadium tour plays Cleveland's Progressive Field on Friday.
It's a big month for music of all kinds in Cincinnati.
Last weekend saw the third Bunbury Music Festival, featuring alternative and independent acts, and the annual Macy's Music Fest returns July 25-26, focusing on R&B and soul with performers such as Ne-Yo, Chaka Khan and Robin Thicke.
Mayor John Cranley said the festivals highlight Cincinnati's musical roots, besides attracting huge throngs of visitors for the city's hotels, restaurants and other entertainment spots.
They "provide a real cultural value for Cincinnatians and give another reason for people from all over the world to come and experience Cincinnati," Cranley said in a statement.
The Bunbury and Buckle Up festivals benefit the Cincinnati USA Music Heritage Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the region's music history. It has helped put historic markers at the former Kings Records headquarters and at the former Herzog Studios, where the late country music legend Hank Williams recorded.
The festivals also support the local Music Resource Center program that teaches teens about recording and performing arts.
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