MELBOURNE — If last year is any guide, Wickham Park will be packed this weekend with thousands of crazed country music fans, dancing to some of the hottest acts out of Nashville.
But the ups and downs of last year’s weekend concert smoothed the way for the 2012 Runaway Country Space Coast Music Festival, which takes over the 400-acre park starting Thursday.
Behind-the-scenes planning for the music festival — which expands to three days with nearly triple the acts — went easier than the inaugural year, Runaway Country executive director Gary McCann said.
“It’s a learning curve for everybody,” he said. “I think we’ve learned what to expect.”
McCann estimates about 30,000 people will attend the three-day festival, up from the 18,000 who attended last year’s event. More than 300 volunteers are expected to help with Runaway Country.
Brevard County Parks and Recreation will once again rent out the entire park, this time for $32,500 for the three days. McCann will pay $27,500 with another $5,000 coming from Space Coast Tourism Development Council.
The park will be closed to the public unless they have a concert ticket.
South Area Parks Operations Manager Greg Minor described planning for this year’s Runaway Country as going “100 percent smoother.”
“There’s better organization, better staffing. They learned from the shortfalls last year,” he said.
One major change those guests will see was to the concert bowl itself, which has been shifted 90 degrees to accommodate a second stage.