YERINGTON — As many as 10,000 people are expected to descend on Yerington in rural northern Nevada this weekend for a country music festival that started more than a decade ago as a tiny, farm-town concert.
The 13th annual A Night in the Country music festival kicked off Friday and continues through Saturday next to the Lyon County Fairgrounds.
Headliners for the biggest festival of its kind in the state include Randy Houser, Billy Currington, Casey James, JT Hodges, Due West and the Eli Young Band.
Last year’s event drew more than 5,000 people and organizers expect twice as many this weekend. That’s about three times the size of Yerington’s normal population.
The event is sold out except for $150 standing-room tickets — a testimony to the popularity that has cash registers ringing at local gas stations, grocery stores and motels.
“We’re a pretty small town, so any event that goes on here is pretty significant. But Night in the County is huge,” said Jodie Britschgi, store director of the Maverik gas station in Yerington.
Dini’s Lucky Club has ordered more food for the influx of people.
“It’s a madhouse,” said George Dini, owner of the casino and the mayor of Yerington.
“It’s big business for the town. Everyone benefits from it,” he told the Reno Gazette-Journal. He acknowledged “some locals don’t like it.”
“Not everybody likes a big crowd, and this is a big crowd,” Dini said.
Last year, the festival raised $180,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Mason Valley. Group leaders say it’s become the financial lifeblood of the organization that served 59,000 meals last year to 1,300 members at its seven locations in Yerington, Dayton and Silver Springs.
“Absolutely critical,” said Travis Crowder, chief professional officer of the area clubs, which only charge $10 for annual membership. “I love what we do. We truly can make a difference in the kids’ lives in Lyon County.”
Last year’s concerts filled the rodeo arena to capacity, with hundreds more listening from outside the gate.
A $70,000 donation from title sponsor Nevada Fresh Pak, which farms organic leafy greens, made it possible to expand this year to just outside the arena to a neighboring field covering about 100 acres.
“Now that we’re starting to get on the radar, people are coming for the experience,” said Tiffani Creedon, an event organizer for the Boys and Girls Club.
“They love it. It’s out in the middle of nowhere, straight camping, great music. The word of mouth does spread that it’s a good time and there’s nothing like it in the state of Nevada,” she said. “Next year is going to be even bigger.”