“Boots in the Park” brings splashy music festivals back to San Diego

Boots in the Park is a country music festival at Waterfront Park.
Boots in the Park is a country music festival at Waterfront Park.
(Miguel Lizarraga

Boots in the Park is a good, ol’ fashioned country music festival happening this week at Waterfront Park.

The all-day event features performances from country powerhouses like headliners Old Dominion, a five-member contemporary country band from Nashville, as well as acts like Dustin Lynch, Scotty McCreery (of “American Idol” fame) and Ryan Griffin.

Boots in the Park is a country music festival at Waterfront Park.
Boots in the Park is a country music festival at Waterfront Park.
(Miguel Lizarraga)

The last San Diego version of Boots in the Park was in October 2019 and attracted about 6,000 people. Steve Thacher, president of Activated Events (the company that produces the concert), said that for this year’s festival, he expects the size of the crowd to double.

“It’s going to be like Boots in the Park XL compared to what previous guests have experienced,” he said. “I think everybody is really ready to get out and enjoy themselves and experience live music again after this year-and-a-half, two-year hiatus .”

Like most music festivals, Boots in the Park will have food and beverage vendors (especially beer), merchandise sales and brand activations. But unique to this event is a line dancing tent hosted by Moonshine Flats, which is a big draw year after year.

“Due to the size of the audience that we’re having, we’re bringing in a much bigger stage than we previously had. Much more sound. Tons of video walls everywhere, so it should be a great view from wherever you’re at ,” Thacher said. “More bar locations, more food vendors. We almost had a Ferris wheel coming in, but at the last minute, we had to pull that one out, so we’ll save that probably for our September event.”

After San Diego, Boots in the Park will make the rounds to other locations, including Fresno, Bakersfield, Norco and Tempe, Ariz. On Sept. 11, the show returns to San Diego’s Waterfront Park with headliner Jon Pardi. Other acts will include Mitchell Tenpenny, Matt Stell, Ross Ellis, Leaving Austin and Michael Austin. This date will also include a special commemoration honoring the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Thacher said he hopes that audiences walk away from a Boots in the Park festival with memories of a day well spent with friends, particularly after a rough 2020.

“That’s always our goal with our events. But what we’ve seen with the last couple, what we’ve produced is really a sense of community,” he said. “We’ve seen people crying up by the stage when Scotty McCreery came on — who’s playing this event as well — hearing live music again for the first time surrounded by their friends. Just that interaction with everybody, really a sense of life back to some sense of normalcy. That’s a big part of what we’re hoping to achieve.”

Boots in the Park

When: 1 to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Waterfront Park, 1600 Pacific Highway, downtown

Who: The festival features Old Dominion, Dustin Lynch, Scotty McCreeryand Ryan Griffin.

Tickets: $99 for general admission; $199 for VIP