Rib Round Up: When the Show Must NOT Go On

It was all about ribs and country music on Saturday, March 7, as country music stars from around the nation headed to South Florida for a day that featured an incredible lineup of music along with a tragic event that would bring the incredible night to an abrupt end.

Michael Ray – Photo: © Rick Munroe MFN

Country music lovers showed up in droves for the highly attended New Country 103.1 Rib Round Up, dressed for the occasion wearing eye-catching plaid shirts, denim jeans, and cowboy hats on a cool, windy and overcast Saturday afternoon.

Rib Round Up continues to be an annual event that draws anyone who loves all things country, and most look forward to attending every year. It is no surprise that the event sells out each year in advance. As a well-established music festival that offers a little bit of everything from local bands, national acts and of course those mouth-watering ribs, the New Country 103.1 Rib Round Up packed the iTHINK Financial Amphitheater in West Palm Beach with over 20,000 country music fans. The lineup included a hearty serving of country music: up-and-coming acts along with some of Nashville’s finest.

If you have attended Rib Round Up in the past, you know that the party starts out in the parking lot early by gathering with friends while playing a few games of cornhole and drinking a couple of cold ones that includes doing a little early grillin’ before moving the party inside the amphitheater. It wasn’t surprising that there was a light crowd for the first few hours of the festival, as fans usually tailgate as they await the headliners later in the day.

Just a short walk from the main stage inside the amphitheater is Rib Row, the place that seemed to be attracting most of the attention early on. Rib Row was where local up-and-comers performed in the Ford Blue Lounge stage that featured great sound and lighting for those who wanted  to catch a little music early on. Things got started with an inspiring set by teenage brother and sister duo Juna and Joey.

They were followed by Joe Noto, Evan Grushka, Cam Boogle, Jameson Rodgers, and Andrew Morris Band. The biggest surprise and incredible performance of the night was by Cam Boogle; the always smiling singer/songwriter is a talent whom we should keep and eye on in the next few years.

Carly Pearce – Photo: © Rick Munroe MFN

For those who arrived early, they were treated to a good ole’ country jam by local favorites Uproot Hootenanny, who performed on the main stage to a sparse but inspired crowd. Georgia native Travis Denning performed a set cut short as he announced that he had a bout with food poisoning. Reminding everyone “Don’t eat from Hibachi Express in South Georgia,” Denning still sounded incredible as he ripped through radio hits including “Heartbeat of a Small Town,” “David Ashley Parker From Powder Spring,” and “Tank of Gas and a Radio Song” and closed out his set with his biggest hit to date, “After A Few.”

Former college basketball player, pre-med student. and now country star Matt Stell opened with “Reason Why” and continue with “I Bet Whiskey Would,” “Anything but Country,” “Sex on Fire” and “Prayed for You,” a song that reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart in 2019. Stell closed out his set with fan-favorite “Better I Drink” from his most recent album, Everywhere But On.

Matt Stell – Photo: Rick Munroe MFN

Things on the main stage began to heat up as Kentucky’s outstanding Carly Pearce took the stage to a huge ovation. As the crowd began to settle in for the remaining four acts, it was Pearce who really got things moving. She looked and sounded incredible as she sang and danced around the Rib Round Up main stage. Pearce who just released her self-titled album on Valentines Day, opened with “You Kissed Me First,” “Hearts Going Out of Its Mind,” “I Hope Your Happy Now,” and “Call Me.” Pearce surprised the crowd when she invited her husband, Michael Ray, on stage to perform their recently released duet “Finish My Sentences.” She closed out her set with “Every Little Thing,” the title track from her 2017 debut album and “Hide the Wine” from the same album.

As the sun set, the crowd settled in after a day or beer-drinking and rib-eating. With the energy now in full effect, Florida-born Michael Ray graced the stage and immediately took control of the audience and declared this was his home state party. He got things started with “Kiss You in The Morning” and “Her World or Mine.”

Travis Denning – Photo: © Rick Munroe MFN

Scheduled to take the stage at 8:10 was Chris Janson who was in the house and ready to perform, but circumstances would prevent that. As stage hands readied for the next act, there was an extended delay, as we have sometimes seen with malfunctioning equipment; however, that was not the case this time. As Palm Beach County fire rescue and sheriffs calmly walked across the stage and up to the catwalk everyone remained calm. It didn’t appear that anything was wrong as everything appeared to be in control. However, at 8:55 the amphitheater house lights were turned on, and an announcement was made the there has been a medical emergency and that the remaining two acts, Chris Janson and headliner Dustin Lynch, would not be able to perform.

WIRK personalities interview Chris Janson – Photo: Rick Munroe MFN

The crowd was asked to leave the venue, and that they did. While there were many questions because no one knew what had happened, some patrons left disappointed that they missed the bands they most wanted to see. It was officially announced via WIRK’s Facebook page that a local crew member has passed away during the festival, causing the show to be stopped. The comments of the radio station’s page appear to be supportive of the decision to cancel the rest of the show. In return, the radio station will be offering a free ticket to either Brad Paisley or Rascall Flatts, both of whom will be performing on the same stage later this summer. Ticket holders wishing to exchange their tickets have been advised to take their tickets to the ITHINK Financial box office starting Wednesday until the end of the month for an exchange.

Here is the Instagram message shared by iThink Financial Amphitheater and WIRK New Country 103.1:

While many will remember this festival for what they didn’t see and hear, they should remember that Rib Round Up 2020 was an incredible day of great food and amazing music. It was a day filled with reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. Regardless of this unfortunate tragedy, Rib Round Up will continue to be an incredible experience for years to come and many are already planning to attend next years festival.

Uproot Hootanny – Photo: © Rick Munroe MFN


Juna and Joey – Photo: © Rick Munroe MFN
Joe Noto – Photo: © Rick Munroe MFN
Juna- Photo: © Rick Munroe MFN


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