Railbird Festival 2023 // Lexington, KY // 6.3.23 and 6.4.23

Railbird Festival

Red Mile

Lexington, KY

June 3rd-4th, 2023


Spirits were high, the sky was clear, and the drinks were flowing on June 3rd for Day 1 of Railbird Festival in Lexington, KY. Although the first two years of the festival were held at beloved Lexington racetrack Keeneland, this year Railbird moved to the infield at Red Mile, the gaming and entertainment center in downtown Lexington. Having attended the first two years, I wasn’t sure what to expect with the new location, but as soon as the gates opened, I was pleasantly surprised. The crowd of people who had gathered near the gates were ripe with anticipation, ready to enjoy some music and fun. Everything was very well laid out on the festival grounds, from the 3 stages to the food stalls to the hydration stations, where festival-goers could fill their water bottles and camel backs to stay well-hydrated on this scorcher of a day! Scattered across the festival grounds were several large, open cooling tents with fans, tables and chairs, and bars set up inside for people who wanted to stay cool and beat the heat while enjoying a cold beer, water, or cocktail. Starting off the music for Day 1 was Nashville country artist Madeline Edwards, getting the crowd moving with her pop/jazz/country sound. With three stages, the musical acts were staggered well, allowing for artists to be performing at all times. Also performing this day were Neal Francis, Wayne Graham, fan-favorites Lucius and Jenny Lewis, local act The Local Honeys, Charley Crockett, The Heavy Heavys, iconic pop-rock artist Sheryl Crow, Whiskey Myers, Bully, Valerie June, Morgan Wade, beloved pop-rock band Weezer, and popular British artist Marcus Mumford, who performed many Mumford and Sons songs, as well as his solo material. Headlining Day 1 was popular country artist Zach Bryan, with many fans having camped out at the barricade all day! When he took the stage, the crowd went wild, with him on stage smiling and giving the crowd back just as much love! Having gotten a ride to the festival, I headed to the ride share area as I left the festival grounds and was very impressed with how smooth and seamless the process was. Everything was coordinated meticulously by Railbird staff in order to make the process as easy and quick as possible, and they definitely succeeded. What could have been an incredibly stressful experience was a fairly stress-free and easy process!

Day 2 started out with a bit of a lighter crowd, with many festival-goers no doubt hungover and sunburned from the day before. With festival-goers rushing the gates on Saturday, Sunday saw a much more orderly start to the day. Security and staff had people line up in a much more orderly fashion and had them approach the gates to enter the festival in a slower and safer way, yelling for people to not run and risk falling. As the gates opened, many headed straight to the different stages to secure their spots at the barricades. With just as hot of a day forecast as Saturday, the hydration stations had steady lines of people throughout the day getting water. Sunday was jam-packed with great music, with the day starting off with 20-year-old Austin singer-songwriter Calder Allen. Telling the crowd how he likes starting things off mellow with early performances such as this, he got the crowd going in no time! The performances kept going throughout the day with 49 Winchester, Nashville favorites Brit Taylor, Sierra Ferrell, and Molly Tuttle, Florida indie rock band Flipturn, Ricky Skaggs, Nickel Creek, Cole Chaney, Town Mountain, Amos Lee, Goose, Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats, The Head and The Heart, and Charles Wesley Godwin. Headlining Day 2 was beloved KY country artist Tyler Childers. Having performed the festival’s first year in 2019, where he was presented with a key to the city, this year it was declared that this day would be known going forward as Tyler Childers Day! People were packed near the stage to hear Childer’s set, singing and dancing along to his music as he performed.

I feel that in their 3rd year of hosting Railbird Festival, the festival organizers found their stride. It was the perfect location and they made sure that people stayed properly hydrated, safe, and had fun. With plenty of music for everyone, from Americana to Country to Bluegrass to Pop/Rock, there was a wide variety of genres to satisfy everyone. There were a lot of great food choices (with my personal favorite, Island Noodles) and many bars from which to purchase beer, cocktails, water and other drinks, and with the cooling tents set up, as well as other shaded areas, there were plenty of areas for people to rest, eat, and just hang out. I hope that Railbird Festival has found a more permanent home at Red Mile and will provide festival-goers with a fun musical experience for years to come!



DAY 1: Madeline Edwards, Wayne Graham, Neal Francis, Lucius, The Local Honeys, Jenny Lewis, Charley Crockett, The Heavy Heavy, Sheryl Crow, Whiskey Myers, Valerie June, Marcus Mumford, Morgan Wade, Weezer, and Zach Bryan




DAY 2: Calder Allen, 49 Winchester, Brit Taylor, Sierra Ferrell, Flipturn, Nickel Creek, Cole Chaney, Amos Lee, Town Mountain, Goose, Molly Tuttle, Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats, and Tyler Childers




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