Jeff Foxworthy is uniting country music, comedy and camping with the kids for RedFest, a new event to be held Memorial Day weekend (May 23-25) in Austin, Texas.
“It’s kind of like a flea market meets a fair meets a festival,” says Foxworthy, calling from his farm in Georgia. “You can bring your friends, bring your family, see and do this stuff all day long and, at night, be entertained.”
Tim McGraw, Florida Georgia Line and Lynyrd Skynyrd are just a few of the artists confirmed for the event, while Rodney Carrington, Larry The Cable Guy and Foxworthy will bring the laughs. Areas dedicated to hunting, fishing, sports and racing are part of the master plan, too.
Foxworthy says he’s been working on RedFest for about a year and a-half.
“I thought, ‘What if you could do something where people could come camp out all weekend, bring their whole family and have everything they liked?'” Foxworthy says. “Most festivals are either music or comedy, and we were like, ‘Let’s do both.'”
CMT: I’m assuming you’re the one who put the “red” in RedFest. Is that the case?
Foxworthy: (laughs) Yeah, we didn’t really know what to call it. It’s a little tongue-in-cheek. There’s a bunch of rednecks out there. And we’re thinking, “It’s Memorial Day — red, white and blue.” You’ve got a few rednecks being outside and listening to comedy and country music and playing cornhole and throwing horseshoes. Why not RedFest?
That name does have a patriotic connotation.
I hope so. A few days ago, we gave away 6,000 tickets to the military, to active service people, to say thanks. That’s a big deal for me. I’m kind of fascinated by people that put their lives on the line so we can do stuff like this. I don’t think any of us say thank-you enough for that.
I’ve gotten to travel the world and go to a bunch of third world countries. We say it all the time, but you come back, and it really is true. This is the greatest place on the earth to live.
When you play for the military audiences, are they a tough crowd?
No, they’re good. (laughs) They’re kind of a special breed, but you find that they’re most appreciative. So here’s a small way to say thank you for what you guys do. We didn’t think it was that big of a deal — good granny, it’s Memorial Day — and the response from them is almost embarrassing a little bit. You’re like, “Don’t be thanking me! We’re trying to say thank you to you!”
Sometimes you just need to laugh. I’d imagine that’s especially true with the military.
I’ve always said that laughter is that release valve that keeps the boiler from exploding. You’ve got to laugh once in a while because everybody’s fighting a battle. Not just veterans, but everybody out there is fighting a battle. And you’ve got to laugh.
That’s one thing that I do love about rednecks. We do have the ability to laugh at ourselves. It’s like, “OK, we’re a little crazy, but we have a good time.”
How involved were you in selecting the lineup for the show?
Pretty involved. I’m thrilled with this lineup. It’s a good mixture of established people and we got lucky on some folks. When we signed Florida Georgia Line, they were just starting to break, and they’re huge now. Tim [McGraw] and I go back, whooo, a long, long ways. You know, 25 years probably. He has the right attitude for this.
I’ve known John Rich and Big Kenny [of Big & Rich] a long time, and they’re fun. Throw a little Skynyrd in there. It’s like, “Y’all just come and let your hair down for a little bit, and let’s have a good time. We’ll all be tired on Monday, but we’ll be glad we did it.”
This being the first year of this event, what’s the ultimate goal for you?
I think any festival is hard the first time because people don’t necessarily know what it is. And even for us, you have this thing in your mind and you’re hoping that’s the way it plays out. But I’m sure there’s a little bit of a learning curve for all of us.
My hope is that people will come and have such a good time that they’ll want to come back. I want to do this again and again, and I want to do it on Memorial Day so we can honor the troops with it. I just want people to come and have fun. If it’s you and a bunch of friends, come have fun. If it’s you and your young’uns, come camp out for two or three days and have a good time hanging out together.
How many shows have you played where kids are in the audience?
Well, that’s a little harder with comedy only because they don’t get it. (laughs) You know what I mean? They don’t have that life experience yet. So it may be weird bringing your kids to a comedy thing, but they can certainly enjoy the music. They can enjoy all the activities and all the stuff we’ve got for them to look at during the day. We’ll wear their butts out. Then you can come and enjoy the concerts!