Tailgate Fest returned to Southern California on Saturday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, following a two year pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The country music festival is unique as it incorporates the tailgate aspect of a concert into the main event. Fans are allowed and encouraged to post up in their truck beds or in areas built around their vehicles with their friends to take in all of the performances.
Tailgate Fest made its Southern California debut as a single-day event in 2018, headlined by Toby Keith in the parking lot of the Kia Forum in Inglewood. It expanded to a two-day show and moved to Leal Ranch in Eastvale in 2019 and settled into its new home in Fontana this year.
On top of the live music, the festival also kept fans engaged with a variety of contests and activities. There were cornhole competitions, line dancing and guests heavily decorated their tailgate spaces in hopes of winning the Pimp That Tailgate Challenge. The top prize package included festival swag, event upgrades and meet and greets with the artists.
Since temperatures were in the 90s over the weekend, those that didn’t splurge to splash around in the VIP swimming pool, used their tailgate spaces to have squirt gun battles and build slip and slides out of large tarps to cool off.
Early in the day, promoters alerted fans on its social media sites that it was aware of long waits to get into the venue as the staff was staggering the vehicles in the tailgate section of the event and asked for their patience. The music started later than anticipated and there were some sound and technical issues that forced early acts to play shorter sets, but by nightfall they were back on track.
Tailgate Fest’s Sunday roster includes performances by Ashland Craft, Chase Bryant, Blanco Brown, Chris Janson and will be closed out by singer-songwriter Billy Currington.