LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The men and women behind Churchill Downs Entertainment are recovering after the track's first ever three-day music festival. Despite the summer heat, HullabaLOU brought in nearly 79,000 fans and is already a sure thing for next year.
Churchill Downs is ready for round two because those good crowd numbers came in the scorching heat and they handled the weather well. There were only 30 heat-related injures over the three days and all were treated at the track. But we wanted to know would Churchill Downs Entertainment consider moving the festival to a cooler time of year?
"We're really pleased," said Steve Sexton, president of Churchill Downs Entertainment. "The customer response has been overwhelming."
The numbers are in - 78,753 fans from 47 states in Louisville July 23, 24, and 25 for HullabaLOU. As crews are busy taking down the inaugural event, Sexton says on-site research found 60% of the crowd came from outside the Louisville area. Their motivation for attending was the variety in the 65 band lineup. As impressive as that is, there's no question more local music fans would have made it to the historic racetrack if it hadn't been so hot.
"There were 99, 98 and 95 degree days," Sexton said. "So the heat did have some impact."
Sexton said moving to a fall date in 2011 sounds good, but it would also mean some major conflicts to get around. To begin with, Sexton says many of the artists schedule their concert tours in the summer. There is the beginning of the school year in mid to late August and the Kentucky State Fair.
"The State Fair does a great job of musical acts and we don't want to conflict with that because it's a great thing for the Commonwealth," said Sexton.
There is also football season. HullabaLOU organizers told us they don't want to conflict with games at nearby Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Not to mention, the fall meet at the Churchill Downs, which includes the Breeders' Cup again next year.
Since they can't control Mother Nature, Sexton believes they have at least, learned a few things in the first year that could help continue to grow the crowd. He said one of the big ones is they have to better schedule the artists performances.
"We had some classic rock acts that somewhat conflicted and some people said you know, I'd like to see both of those artists, but I can't run from one end of the infield to the other in five minutes."
Overall, the HullabaLOU brand has made a name for itself with music fans nationwide.
Churchill Downs Entertainment will analyze feedback from fans and performers over the next few weeks to plan for the 2011 event. Fans are asked to post input on the HullabaLOU Facebook page.
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