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March 25, 2017

REVIEW: Runaway Country 2017 at Osceola Heritage Park


St. Patrick's Day weekend saw the return of Runaway Country Music Fest to Osceola Heritage Park. This was the seventh year for the formerly-Melbourne-based event, and the second year in a row that the festival called Kissimmee home for three days of music, food, and fun of the country variety!




Osceola Heritage Park really is the perfect venue for Runaway Country. Though the event is a huge draw, there is so much to see, buy, eat, drink, and do in such an expansive, open space that you never feel mobbed or "stuck". As someone who has slight claustrophobic issues, events like these can sometimes be intimidating. Runaway Country is different. The presence of multiple stages also helps to thin the herds and spread the crowd. The Main Stage tends to draw larger numbers than the semi-enclosed, smaller My Apartment stage, but both do increase in audience size as day begins to yield to night. 



There is always a mass array of vendors at Runaway Country, harking all sorts of covetable goodies - edibles, drinkables, wearables, and everything in-between. Mobile bars spring up throughout the festival grounds. Food vendors range from carnival-style fare to local culinary hot spots. This year, many had examples of their decadent creations on display, heaping on the temptation for hungry festival-goers. This could almost be a food festival with the music playing second-fiddle! Bring extra clothes - one or two sizes bigger than your norm... or you could always buy an outfit or two from any of the unique pop-up boutiques along the event perimeter. I'm always a fan of Dang Chicks, and loved the inclusion of Gypsy Junque this year!




Many Runaway Country attendees opt to stay on-site in RVs. For those of us who come and go from home each day, there's definitely that tinge of jealousy as you're waling up to the entrance through rows of RVs where folks appear to be gathered for a cross between a tailgating party and a hillbilly Woodstock. Lazydays RV is one of Runaway Country's top sponsors, and they're undoubtedly responsible for more than a few of the temporary residences set up on site. 



When festival-goers have the option to stay steps away from the party, you can rest assured that the party won't stop. Runaway Country keeps the fun going day and night, with line dancing lessons, cooler cart races, celebrity meet and greets, spontaneous games, and more - and that's all before we talk about the music!



This year's event featured more than 30 musical acts on two stages, including new and classic country arts such as: Cam, Locash, Billy Currington, Corey Smith, Aaron Tippin, Josh Turner, Neal McCoy, Jason Aldean, and Brad Paisley - who paid a smashing tribute to Chuck Berry on the day of his passing with a spot-on cover of "Johnny B. Goode".



Tickets for the 2017 event started at $89 for one-day general admission. All three days totaled $145. Additional options included reserved seating ($169-$340), personal porta potty ($165), stage seats and party pit passes (both $20-$95). Camping sites ranged in pricing from $165-$600, depending on size and location.

The 2018 lineup has yet to be announced, but tickets are already on sale. The event is set to return to Osceola Heritage Park once again. If you're a fan of country music or festivals in general, you're probably safe to make the commitment even before performers are announced. 

My top tips - wear comfortable shoes, bring an easily portable chair, stake out a stage viewing spot early, save up plenty of spending money, and be social. Runaway Country offers a lot more than music, and it's a perfect excuse to gather up friends for a memorable weekend. 

For more information on Runaway Country, visit them online, or follow them on Facebook or Twitter. To see full-size versions of all of our Runaway Country photos, visit our photo album from the event.