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Route 91 Harvest festival plans return to Las Vegas Strip

Updated December 13, 2018 - 10:41 pm

Plans are underway to return the Route 91 Harvest country-music festival to the Strip in the fall of 2019 — and at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds, not the Las Vegas Village.

Sources familiar with the festival’s plans indicate Route 91’s return would be in the fall at Las Vegas Festival Grounds, the venue on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. The 35-acre plot had been considered a site for Route 91 dating to 2016, because of the festival’s rapid growth.

Officials from event promoter Live Nation confirmed the organization is planning to bring back the festival next year. The event at Village was the site of the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting, which killed 58 festivalgoers and injured hundreds more during Route 91’s third and final night.

Plans for a return of Route 91 to Las Vegas were disclosed Wednesday at XLIVE, a music-industry conference at Mandalay Bay. Julie Matway, chief operating officer of Country Nation, which is led by Live Nation’s country-festival division, fielded a question about the event’s return.

“Route 91 Harvest here in Las Vegas is one of my kids,” Matway said during a panel discussion in a story posted on the Amplify music publication website. “I am looking forward to how and when we are going to bring that back. We are working hard on that. Hopefully we will get it online for 2019.”

MGM Resorts International, which owns both the Village and Festival Grounds, has cleared the Village of all staging equipment and planned its outdoor events at the Festival Grounds since the Oct. 1 tragedy. The Festival Grounds today are considered the company’s primary parcel for large-scale events on the Strip; no decision has been announced for the future of the Village.

The first large-scale, public music event at the Festival Grounds since the Oct. 1 tragedy, iHeartRadio Music Festival’s Daytime Stage, was held Sept. 23. On Nov. 29, the venue was activated for several thousand attendees at the Amazon World Services re:Invent conference’s closing party, titled re:Play.

Brian O’Connell, Live Nation’s president of country touring, has not returned texts or phone calls about the future of the event. O’Connell was among the officials who brought the three-festival to the Strip originally in 2014, when it was an instant success and a regular sellout of about 22,000 fans annually. That was the attendance on the night of Oct. 1 when gunfire broke out near the start of Jason Aldean’s festival-closing set.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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