Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Superstars Jackson, McGraw to headline Country Thunder

Alan Jackson is one of this year's headlining acts.

Alan Jackson is one of this year's headlining acts.

Nashville superstars Alan Jackson and Tim McGraw will headline the 2009 edition of Country Thunder USA near Florence, with the four-day event undergoing changes aimed at making it more family- and fan-friendly.

“This year, the headline acts will be offstage at 10:30 p.m. so families can attend,” says Kirt Webster, chief spokesman for the festival to be held April 1-4. “The main bowl area is being changed, and VIP seating is being reduced, so (general admission) fans can get closer to the stage.”

In addition, the festival will return to a Wednesday-through-Saturday setup, allowing those who camp a day to get home before returning to work on Monday. Beer prices are being lowered by $2.

Headliners have played as late as midnight in the past 15 years of the festival, forcing families with children to leave before the night’s entertainment had ended.

VIP seating had expanded in recent years, pushing those with general-admission tickets farther back.

The festival has drawn more than 100,000 to Canyon Moon Ranch just outside Florence, about an hour’s drive southeast of Phoenix in recent years.

The 50-acre site has 4,000 campsites.

Others joining Jackson and McGraw, who routinely sell out arenas in Arizona, include Little Big Town, Montgomery Gentry, Blake Shelton, Rodney Atkins, Neal McCoy, Keith Anderson, Jack Ingran, and the Zac Brown Band.

The biggest acts will play April 2-4, with a “beer garden kick-off party” launching the festival April 1, Webster said.

Tim McGraw is one of this year's headlining acts.

Tim McGraw is one of this year's headlining acts.



What: Country Thunder

When: various times April 1-4

Where: Canyon Moon Ranch just outside Florence

Price: $30-$318, various packages available

Info: 520-868-9711, countrythunder.com

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