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Lakewood Ranch to host major music fest

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Jeff Cook/COURTESY PHOTO

A Country Music Hall of Famer, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and two classic rock stars will help launch what could easily become a signature, annual music festival at the 140-acre Premier Sports Complex in Lakewood Ranch. Schroeder-Manatee Ranch Inc. is producing Winterfest, which debuts March 29-30, at its master-planned community in East Manatee. SMR has never before hosted a music event of this magnitude.

“We’re expecting people from all over the U.S. to visit,” said Jim Chiaffredo, spokesperson for Winterfest.

Confirmed artists include country great Jeff Cook, of the band Alabama, Jefferson Airplane cofounder Marty Balin plus guitar hero Rick Derringer - the Manatee County resident and “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo” singer - performing with multi-instrumentalist Edgar Winter, whose hits include “Frankenstein.”

“We want to make this as equal across all genres as we can and there will be other acts we get signed later,” Chiaffredo said. “It was most important to us to get those guys done first to establish the tone of the festival.”

Bertie Higgins, the soft rock singer of the 1982 hit “Key Largo” and country crooner Billy Dean, whose many hits from the 1990s and ‘00s include “Only Here for a Little While,” “If There Hadn’t Been You” and “Let Them be Little” are also scheduled to perform. Child guitar star Jake Castro and the Billy Rice Band, a Bradenton area favorite, are also among the acts announced Tuesday.

More national acts are expected to be confirmed in the following months. Local acts from the Del Couch Music Education Foundation, the Palmetto-based non-profit organization formed to provide students with opportunities to create and learn the art of music, will also be added to the lineup.

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Rick Derringer/COURTESY PHOTO

“There will be 18 total shows over the two days,” Chiaffredo said. “We’re trying to get something from almost every genre so we’re working on a couple of jazz players, pop players, maybe a couple guys in the alternative genre.”

Winterfest will also feature 50 vendor spots for food and drink as well as an artisan village expected to be filled with 25 booths. The music will run from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day and be performed on a large stage accompanied by giant screens with perhaps a couple smaller stages for acoustic and youth acts.

Organizers promise ample parking and restrooms with attendees asked to bring a lawn chair or blanket for seating at the outdoor event. In addition, VIP tent spots will be for sale that come with a chair seat in front of the stage, food as well as meet and greet opportunities with select performing artists. Ticket prices have yet to be determined.

“We haven’t really set those yet but they’re in line with standard ticket prices,” Chiaffredo said. “Your price for the entire day will be less than some of these guys, and the guys not announced yet, charge just to see their show.”

Organizers aim to present a big event that is family friendly and will bring greater national exposure to Lakewood Ranch.

“We want to grow this into a music event that rivals some of the largest in the country,” Chiaffredo said. “And where better to do that than Lakewood Ranch and Manatee County in the winter or early spring? I can’t think of one.”

Last modified: June 19, 2013
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