Allerton Park's Prairie Sky Music Festival adds headliner

Champaign jazz bassist Viktor Krauss’ connection to Allerton Park has helped the venue attract five-time GRAMMY award winning country artist Marty Stuart to this year’s Prairie Sky Music Festival, planned for Sept. 7-8 in the Allerton mansion meadow near Monticello.

“We work closely with Viktor Krauss. He serves on our Art in the Park committee and is a long-time advocate of Allerton,” said the park’s director Derek Peterson. “While on tour with Lyle Lovett, Viktor saw Marty Stuart play at a festival and he had nothing but praise for Marty and his (Fabulous) Superlatives. From his roots of playing with Lester Flatt, to Johnny Cash’s band, to an incredible country music career spanning decades, everything about Marty and his band will translate to a phenomenal experience at the festival.”

Last year’s inaugural Prairie Sky festival – the first ever multi-day music event at the park – drew about 1,000 visitors. Newgrass legends Jerry Douglas and Sam Bush headlined the Saturday evening concert. Stuart is more well known in country and bluegrass circles, but Allerton Event Manager Anna Dole said when taken as a whole there will be plenty of variety in what she termed an Americana music weekend.

“While the headliner is a little more country, we’re keeping the lineup broadly Americana, so not as much country throughout the entire lineup,” said Dole. “We’re still pulling some of those acts together, but for example our Friday night is not really country, it’s more of an Americana band out of Nashville. So we trying to keep it bluegrass, Americana, country, a lot of different feels.”

The full lineup will be announced in upcoming weeks.

Stuart has been in the music scene as a singer and songwriter for more than four decades, earning him a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association. Before topping the charts as a solo artist in the 1990s, Stuart toured with bluegrass legend Lester Flatt and spent six years in Johnny Cash’s band in the 1980s.

According to Billboard, he has had six top-10 hits, including “The Whiskey Ain’t Workin’” which peaked at No. 2 on the country charts in 1992, as well as “Tempted,” “Burn Me Down,” “This One’s Gonna Hurt You” and “Hillbilly Rock.”

He has also had albums on the Americana/Folk and Bluegrass charts.

The Prairie Sky Festival will feature food, drinks vendors and outdoor activities.

Tent and campers will be allowed again this year, but the location will be moved from the Sunsinger area to the back portion of the meadow.

“Camping out at Allerton is not a common opportunity, so a lot of people are excited about that. Last year we weren’t sure about the space, but it’s a huge meadow and the way things fell last year we know there’s plenty of space on that other side so it’s not so far and more people may want to camp if it’s closer to the festival grounds,” added Dole.

She is also confident that last year’s attendance was just a starting point.

“We hope to only grow that this year, and we’re taking steps to really get it out there, get new audiences, bring in new people who haven’t been to Allerton or to one of our concerts before, and bring back people that came out and enjoyed Sam Bush and Jerry Douglas last year.”


Presenting sponsor

This year’s presenting sponsor is Lodgic Everyday Community, a Champaign business that combines co-working, flexible childcare and craft food and drink at one location. It is set to open this June at 1807 S. Neil St.

“Allerton and Lodgic have a shared interest in strengthening families and communities,” said Stefanie McLeese, Lodgic’s director of public relations. “We each do that in our own respective way, but when you combine efforts, the result can be magical. We are thrilled about this partnership and look forward to being a part of Prairie Sky, and the summer concerts leading up to the big weekend in September.”

Allerton Park & Retreat Center hosts Friday night concerts throughout the spring and summer, most of them on the Gate House lawn at 515 Old Timber Rd. in Monticello. Attendance at those have ranged between 400 to 1,000 people, with the Irish-themed evening being the largest draw in 2017.

Tickets for the Prairie Sky Music Festival go on sale April 2 at with an early discount for the first 200 tickets sold. Registration for camping is also available on the website.


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