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Tortuga Music Festival: 100,000 fans set attendance record

Fort Lauderdale’s sold-out Tortuga Music Festival broke the 100,000 attendance mark for this first time this weekend, attracting country-music fans from all 50 states and 22 countries, event organizers said Monday.

The three-day event at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park featured headliners Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan and Chris Stapleton, along with country favorites Alan Jackson, Darius Rucker and Maren Morris, hip-hop star Nelly and pop singer Daya.

The festival, which expanded to three days of music in 2016, has set an attendance record each year since its debut in 2013. Half of this year’s attendees came from outside the state, according to event producer Huka Entertainment.

VIP and Super VIP tickets were among the first to sell out, and a new $99 daily ticket upgrade allowing general-admission ticket holders access to a space at the front of the main stage, called the Reef, also sold out all three days.

In anticipation of the growth, Huka this year removed one stage to aid crowd movement between the two remaining stages at either end of the festival layout, which was slightly longer than the previous year. The second stage had a revolving feature that allowed more acts to move on and off with minimal transition time between sets.

"We kept the music going," says A.J. Niland, Huka chairman and chief experience officer. "We really stepped up our crowd flow this year.”

For a point of reference, the annual Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Tennessee traditionally has attracted 80,000 people to its four days of music in June. The Tennessean newspaper last year reported that the 2016 festival set a record low of 45,537 tickets sold. The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival typically draws 100,000 per day during its six days in the California desert, according to the Los Angeles Times.

bcrandell@sun-sentinel.com

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