Peacemaker Festival to rock Fort Smith with country tunes

Alex Gladden
Fort Smith Times Record
Kylie Frey will perform at the Peacemaker Festival in Fort Smith on July 31.

Kylie Frey describes her '90s-vibing country tunes as “somewhere between Chris LeDoux and Linda Ronstadt," and she is pumped to bring her jams to Fort Smith at the seventh annual Peacemaker Festival. 

The festival will take place July 30 and 31, and Frey will take the stage that Saturday. Gates will open at 4 p.m. Friday at Harry E. Kelley River Park on the Arkansas River in Fort Smith.

Frey joins artists such as Cody Johnson, Lucero, and Muscadine Bloodline for the festival, which organizers say has morphed into a celebration of country music. 

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“It seems like red-dirt Americana really resonates with the demographic of music lovers here in Fort Smith," said Trent Goins the president of the festival's board of directors.  

Frey, a Louisiana native, identifies with that Texas country that has become inseparable from red-dirt music. With hits like her newest single "Horses in Heaven," which draws from her rodeo days, Frey encapsulates the genre that Peacemaker is effusing. 

“It’s kind of what’s shaped the festival from a genre standpoint for the last few years," said Ricky Beauchamp, a vice president of the festival, about red-dirt country. 

For Frey, that music is something that comes from first-hand experiences. 

“The songs that always make the cut are the ones that have a story behind them and have a real place," Frey said. 

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Her favorite song to perform is "One Night in Tulsa." 

“It’s the one that people sing back to me the most so it's been really cool to see that," Frey said.

Charlie Muncaster and Gary Stanton of Muscadine Bloodline said their music is “honest country music with a rock attitude." Some of their biggest hits are "Porch Swing Angel," "Put Me in My Place" and "Can't Tell You No." 

The pair is from Mobile, Alabama and started out playing regionally. They now play about 150 shows a year and travel throughout the country. 

“We grew up around music and it’s definitely our calling," Muncaster said. 

Stanton and Muncaster started making music in 2015. 

People can purchase tickets online. There were a few hundred general admission tickets still available as of Monday, Beauchamp said. 

The festival was born from a Facebook post that Jeff Gosey posed to the community, asking if people would support having a festival. He received an overwhelming response and from there decided to do something about it. 

“Then it was a lot of trial and error and just a learning curve for us learning how to throw a festival," Beauchamp said. 

The people who emerged to create what would become Peacemaker was, and still is, a group of volunteers who just want to do something to help Fort Smith, Beauchamp said. Money from the event goes toward children's charities in the River Valley. 

“We all do this because we’re passionate about music. We’re extremely passionate about downtown Fort Smith and Fort Smith as a whole, and obviously, I don’t think there’s any doubt that we have strong convictions about raising money for children’s charities in Fort Smith," Goins said. 

Goins said the festival last year brought approximately 7,000 people to Fort Smith for the weekend, making it the largest Peacemaker event since its inception in 2015.

“We expect to eclipse that this year," Goins said. 

Peacemaker continued last year amid the pandemic because of the need from the charities that the festival supports, Beauchamp said. The festival directed money to eight charities in 2020. 

“We just look forward to getting to have a great time down on the banks of the Arkansas River," Goins said.