Man details festival to rival Country Jam

Bobby Willis of Loma announces Friday at Cactus Canyon in Grand Junction that he will stage a free music festival June 23-25 off Interstate 70 near Loma. It would be in direct competition with Country Jam USA near Mack.

A man planning to stage a large country music festival to rival Country Jam USA held a news conference Friday to reveal who will perform but revealed little else about who he is and how he plans to fund the venture.

Bobby Willis, who said he has lived in Loma for about nine months, is the man planning to host Bobby’s Birthday Bash on June 23–25 “near the Loma exit” off Interstate 70.

Country Jam, now in its 20th year, is scheduled for June 23–26 in Mack, which is just a few miles from Loma.

The most notable difference between the event Willis has planned and Country Jam — other than the scheduled performers — is that Bobby’s Birthday Bash is offering free general-admission tickets.

Tickets to Country Jam start at $69 for a one-day admission ticket.

Among the more than 30 acts scheduled to appear at Bobby’s Birthday Bash are the Bellamy Brothers, John Michael Montgomery, Leroy Van Dyke, Candy Coburn and BlackHawk, according to Ty Morgan of radio station KMOZ 100.7-FM, who announced the list Friday.

Bobby’s Birthday Bash “wants to feature those who started country music but also those trying to make their way” in country music right now, Morgan said.

The official websites for those performers do not list them performing in Colorado in late June.

Morgan said the official performers and dates will be posted on a website,, when the site goes live as soon as next week. Currently, there is no website for that URL.

Information about Willis was difficult to ascertain at the news conference. He was asked but did not say where he was from previously, what he does for a living, or how he can pay for such a large, multiday event.

After the news conference, a man claiming to be Willis’ attorney declined to answer those questions as well. The attorney, Kyle Finch of Farmington, N.M., said Willis is a private man when it comes to his personal life.

In naming the event “Bobby’s Birthday Bash,” Willis said it isn’t a birthday party for him. Rather, the Bobby being referenced is a “character.”

Willis did provide some more specifics about what he envisions for the event. He said he wants two, large main stages to give the audience continual access to music during the multiday event with minimal breaks in activity. He said an Illinois company will be setting up three JumboTrons on the site to enhance the experience.

The event will provide camping areas, food vendors and alcohol sales, much like Country Jam, but Willis emphasized Friday he wants Bobby’s Birthday Bash to have a family-oriented atmosphere.

Construction on the two main stages has not begun at the site, but Morgan and Willis said plans to build all necessary structures for the event will begin as soon as weather permits. No construction permits with Mesa County have been filed for Bobby’s Birthday Bash, county spokeswoman Jessica Peterson said.

However, she added people in the county’s planning department have had conversations with event organizers, and they expect paperwork for a conditional-use permit to be filed as soon as Monday.

Peterson said the process to obtain a conditional-use permit usually takes more than two months. A liquor license has not been applied for, but it takes less time to obtain, she said.

Country Jam has not filed its liquor-license paperwork, either, Peterson added.

“Everything is moving along quite well,” Willis said.

Two representatives for Country Jam attended the Friday news conference to hear more about Willis’ plans for the event and to learn more about him.

Joe Coleman, a local attorney, spoke on behalf of Country Jam and said the company will be “good neighbors” to Bobby’s Birthday Bash, but officials with Country Jam are worried any new venture near its Mack location on the same weekend as its event will create potential security and traffic headaches for law enforcement.

Willis said he loves Colorado and wants a country music event in Mesa County to generate as much revenue as possible for the area by making it an attractive music and vacation destination.


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