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CountryLife Music Festival comes to SWFL

Reba McEntire will headline Sunday's CountryLife stage.

Reba McEntire will headline Sunday’s CountryLife stage.

On April 24 – 26, step into those boots and dawn that cowboy hat because Southwest Florida will be hosting the CountryLife Music Festival.

Hosted by the Florida Tracks and Trails recreational park, the major event will be a three-day music festival with some of the biggest names in country music business— Reba McEntire, Hank Williams, Jr., Billy Currington, Big & Rich, Charlie Daniels, Gloriana, Craig Wayne Boyd and many more.

The festival, dubbed “one of the biggest festivals in the Midwest” is making its way south.  The annual event usually takes place in Illinois; however, festival organizers wanted to try something new.

“A Florida version of this festival makes sense,” festival founder Brad Maloney said in a November press release.  “There has never been a major event like this in SW Florida and there is certainly not another venue like this in the country.” 

The Florida Tracks and Trails theme park is nearing completion in Punta Gorda, Charlotte County.  The 1,000-acre park boasts trails for ATVs, go carts and dirt bikes; seven paintball fields, a 23,000-capacity amphitheater for outdoor concerts and other events; four Motocross dirt-bike tracks; a freshwater beach and more.

Gator Country 101.9 FM has teamed up with Florida Tracks and Trails to bring big name artists to the area.  

“Country is so popular right now, all age groups are gravitating towards it,” said Gator Country Program Director and Operations Manager, Randy Savage to WINK News.  “It’s really a phenomenal line up, you really have to check it out.”

Kicking off a sensational country weekend is Friday’s headliner, Billy Currington, who has eight No. 1 hits, including Good Directions, Must Be Doin’ Something Right and People Are Crazy.  In 2013, Currington’s Hey Girl fast-tracked the charts to become a No. 1 hit on the Country Airplay Chart.  Currently, the star is riding the We Are Tonight wave and preparing to tour with Chase Bryant and Tim McGraw this summer.

Although well into his sixth decade of making music, Saturday’s CountryLife headliner Hank Williams, Jr. is showing no signs of slowing down.  The Grammy-winning country, rock and blues legend will entertain with his most “outspoken, controversial and flat-out rowdy” album in years, Old School, New Rules.  The multi-gold and platinum star will marvel with his musicality, recognizable vocals and charisma.

Rounding out the weekend will be Reba, one of the most successful female recording artists in history.  With over 56 million albums sold worldwide and a reign of No. 1 hits spanning four decades, Reba’s performance is sure to resonate with fans across all ages when she takes the stage as Sunday’s CountryLife headliner.

This will be the biggest concert of its kind to come to Southwest Florida.  Savage says the need for country concerts and festivals in Southwest Florida is huge.

“This is what Southwest Florida has been asking about for years, and that’s why the artist want to come here,” Savage told WINK News.  “It’s great to bring an event like this to SWFL, it’s something we’ve never been able to do.”

Tickets to the CountryLife Music Festival are still on sale for the star-studded country event.  Three-day passes for the festival are $139 – $599, with single-day passes $49 – 99.

- For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or 

60 Balloons to Paint the Sky
Seminole Casino Immokalee reaches new heights

On April 11 and 12, the Fourth Annual Balloons Over Paradise Festival will take to the sky at the Seminole Tribe Youth Ranch.

On April 11 and 12, the Fourth Annual Balloons Over Paradise Festival will take to the sky at the Seminole Tribe Youth Ranch.

Seminole Casino Hotel Immokalee will bring its Fourth Annual Balloons Over Paradise Festival to the Seminole Tribe Youth Ranch, April 11 and 12.

The two-day event will feature 60 hot air balloons and delicious food, arts and crafts, tethered balloon rides, classic car show, a polo exhibition and an equestrian drill team performance.  Admission is free to the all-ages festival.

Festival-goers will be able to walk among the balloons as they inflate for a mass ascension into the sky.  Specialty balloons include Hamlet the Flying Pig, Sugar Bear, Mr. Winter, Puddy Cat and Yellow Bird and much more.

The fun, vibrant hot air balloons will also engage in games throughout the weekend.  In the hare and hound competition, the hare balloon takes off first.  The other balloons, called the hounds, will launch a predetermined time after the hare.  Soon afterward, the hare will land, laying out a large fabric X, about 50 feet in diameter, and radios the coordinates to the hounds.  The hound balloons will then attempt to drop their markers as close to the center of the X as possible, with the closest marker achieving the highest score.  Cash prizes will be awarded to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners.

Last year, the event made history by bringing polo to Southwest Florida.  This year, the polo teams return with more than 30 top polo ponies.  Six international players will be featured in an exhibition match and will be available to meet and sign autographs for festival-goers after the game.

- Reach new heights with the Fourth Annual Balloons Over Paradise Festival on April 11 & 12 at the Seminole Tribe Youth Ranch, located at 1195 SR 29 in Immokalee, FL.  For more information, visit!