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Q & A with Joe Austin, Executive Director of Muskegon Summer Celebration.

We did a short Q&A with Joe Austin, Exectuive Director of Muskegon's Summer Celebration.

When booking for the festival, what is your exact process?

We usually compile a list of acts we think may do well and we include bands that we have gotten requests for if we think the act makes sense for us. In October the first round of who may be available gets circulated. The process continues and by the time it's all done, we have probably "tenatively" booked 50-60 acts that we think we be here, but lans change for one reason or another.

When we decide to make an offer, our agent placing the offer, and we wait...anywhere from a few days to a couple of months. The offer may be accepted, rejected, or counter offered.

How do you decide which bands to contact?

See above, but the bottom line is almost always, who is playing during the time frame, do they route into Michigan, and is the price reasonable.

Out of all the bands you contact, how many end up getting back to you, and then who makes the final choice?

See above. We get answers from 95% of the acts, but not always "yes."

Which band(s) are you most excited to see this year?

Neon Trees/Civil Twilight/Paper Tongues/Newsboys package is going to be great. I really like Neon Trees. Here Come the Mummies (opening for Ludacris) is a great story and a very talented group. O.A.R. is supposed to have an incredible live show, and lastly, the B-52's are going to make for a great party.

Now about the festival.

Is the stage up all year?

The Main Stage is permanent.

How early do you guys start the set up, and what all do you have to do?

We start about two and a half weeks before the festival starts. The to-do list is endless, but we basically take Heritage Landing as a blank canvas and create a small city.

Did Rothbury affect your attendance at all?

To some extent, yes. Exactly how much, I don't know, but having another major music festival within 30 miles of another can't help.

How many people work during the event?

It takes approximately 1500 volunteers to operate the festival. In addition their is the security staff, office staff, midway staff, stage hands all of whom are paid.

How long does it take to clean up the park each night, and then to take down the festival grounds when the festival is over?

Cleaning is a never ending process throughout the 11 days, but to clean the concert venue after a show takes one - two hours depending on crowd size.

Do you ever go to other festivals such as Bonnaroo, Coachella, or Lollapalooza? Your festival format is really unique compared to most, which provide camping, multiple stages for the weekend, where as you guys have a few bands a night, and then everyone leaves for the evening. Do you think that helps or hurts?

I have not attended those events, but have attended other festivals more similar to ours such as the Bethlehem Music Festival, Sunfest in West Palm Beach, and several of the Milwaukee festivals. The big festivals you mention usually attract a younger crowd, while we are more than just a music festival. Ours is more a community event enjoyed by people throughout Western Michigan.

Catering to the bands, what is the weirdest thing you guys have been asked to provide to a band?

One act asked for a naked, autographed picture of Elle Mcpherson. It was more a joke just to make sure we were reading the rider thoroughly. Our hospitality chair provided a substitute that the act got a real kick out of.

Muskegon Summer Celebration runs from June 24th - July 4th, featuring a major act each night, tickets for the 11 day event are $129.00, or you can purchase tickets for single day events. To buy tickets, or to learn more, please visit www.SummerCelebration.com or click here.


  1. I'm excited for Paper Tongues! Trinity is a good song.

  2. "naked, autographed picture of Elle Mcpherson".... I'm dying to know which band requested this.


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