Tree Town to become Country Thunder Music Festival next year
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Tree Town to become Country Thunder Music Festival next year

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Tree Town is no more.

The country music festival based in Forest City since 2013 will get new management, a new name and a new date next year.

Country Thunder, managed by Premier Global Production, will take over Tree Town. PGP operates five other Country Thunder festivals around the United States and Canada, including one in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, and Florence, Arizona.

The festivals feature multiple stages with acts ranging from big names like Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert and Jake Owen to local artists looking to make a breakthrough.

The new date for the festival will be June 12-14, when organizers say they hope the weather will be a little better. Though no official lineup was announced, several names came up, including Bryan, Florida Georgia Line and Lambert.

"It's the biggest party up here and it's great news that we're going to keep this going," said Forest City Mayor Barney Ruiter.

Tree Town organizers did not return repeated messages for comment Friday and Saturday, but PGP has already been managing festival since 2018.

Tree Town's history has been fraught in the last several years. 

Gary DeWaard and his father, David DeWaard, were among those who started Tree Town, a country music festival that has brought stars such as Keith Urban and Tim McGraw to perform in Forest City every Memorial Day weekend since 2014.

In January 2018, Gary DeWaard said their company, Basis, would no longer be involved in Tree Town.

Premier Global Productions, a Nashville company that provides production services and equipment for outdoor music festivals, took over management of Tree Town.

In August 2018, PGP filed a $1.7 million lawsuit alleging Basis conspired to defraud the Nashville company by not paying for thousands of dollars in services for those concerts.

Basis filed a counterclaim in September 2018, alleging PGP wrongfully took control of collateral Basis offered to get PGP to provide services for the Happy Valley Jam at Penn State University.

Gary DeWaard filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in January 2019.


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