Peacemaker Music Festival July 28-29 brings music to Riverfront Amphitheater in Fort Smith

Peacemaker Music Festival July 28-29 brings music to Riverfront Amphitheater in Fort Smith

In 2014, Trent Goins says, he and two other downtown Fort Smith business owners dreamed up a music festival to boost the Fort Smith music scene and raise money for children’s charities.

But what to call the festival?

“We thought of a million different names, Hell on the Border, which seemed too obvious. Sweat Fest because it’s 100 degrees in Fort Smith on the last weekend of July,” recalls Goins. Ultimately they decided on “Peacemaker” because of Fort Smith’s connection to the Old West.

“We don’t have any association with the Marshals Museum by any means. Somebody talked about The Peacemaker being the gun that won the West. That just stuck with us [since] we’re right on the border of outlaw territory,” Goins says.

As the owner of The Majestic in downtown Fort Smith, Goins is welcoming back musicians connected to his venue and previous festivals as well as introducing rising country music artists to the River Valley.

Shane Smith and the Saints headline the opening night of the two-day music festival with Marcus King the next evening.

“49 Winchester is a band that’s really catching fire,” Goins mentions of this year’s lineup. Meg McRee, Taylor Hunnicut and Maggie Antone are “fireworks, all three of them,” he says. “I think our festivalgoers are really going to enjoy what they bring to the table this year.”

JR Carroll returns as a solo act this year. The Red Clay Strays, Slade Coulter, The Weathered Souls, The Lowdown Drifters, Joe Stamm, Palmer Anthony, Reid Haughton, Nolan Taylor and an After Party with Calder Allen are also slated for the weekend.

“Man, I’m just excited to have everybody,” Goins concludes.

For the third year in a row, Goins and crew are promoting their Peacemaker Artist-in-Residence program to help musicians with recording costs by setting them up with a recording session at Sōl Studios in Fort Smith. The Peacemaker team also helps the artist craft press materials to promote on social media and to share with publications (like the one you’re reading now).

“Tanner was our first Emerging Artist of the Year for the Peacemaker Festival,” and has been involved in Peacemaker Festival for a few years. Goins says he’s honored to have been part of Usery’s early career.

“Tanner actually came into The Majestic four years ago,” Goins begins his story. “He was doing soundcheck, and I was out back barbecuing for his group and the other band,” and then Goins heard Usery sing. He says he stopped cooking and went in to listen to the soundcheck. He’s been a fan ever since.

He says that Usery has become a favorite of the festival and The Majestic. He recorded an EP with Sōl Studios as part of the Emerging Artist of the Year program two years ago.

Another Majestic stan is Joe Stamm Band, this year’s Emerging Artist of the Year.

The group recorded a five-song EP, “Fort Smith,” in the Sōl Studios on Garrison Avenue.

“It was just an incredible experience to watch those guys work. They came in with a game plan and knew the five songs that they had written and rehearsed and wanted to record. It was a really magical week to watch them kind of go through the process and working with the Sōl team is always a great experience for us,” Goins says.

“I think it’s going to be a very pleasant experience for all the patrons who can enjoy the festival,” he adds.

Recipients of festival funds have included Fort Smith Children’s Emergency Shelter, Girls Inc., Developmental Wings, Fort Smith Boys and Girls Clubs, and Girl Scouts Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas but as the festival grew, so did the mission to give back to the community and the musicians who were growing up alongside the festival.

“We’re kind of all-encompassing, trying to do positive things in the River Valley,” Goins explains.

Goins says that in the past the festival weekend has had a $3 million impact on Fort Smith’s downtown, aside from the money raised for charity. A couple of years ago, they decided to add another aspect to the festival’s charitable giving by lending support to charities supported by the artists who perform at the festival.

Last year, Goins surprised Shane Smith of Shane Smith and The Saints. After he saw that the band was auctioning off a signed guitar on Facebook to benefit an equestrian-based therapy organization for people with disabilities called Jake E’s Riding Round Up of Kaufman, Texas, Goins reached out.

“We decided as a board that we not only wanted to give to children’s charities in our back yard, but maybe we can pick an artist every year where we give money to a charity that a particular artist supports,” Goins says. After contacting the charity with a donation, Goins says he received a surprise of his own.

“The next thing I know, the charity calls me and says, ‘Well, Shane’s mom and dad would really like to come to the festival as well. We’d like to bring his brother, and we’re coming up,” he recalls. “We got to present them a $20,000 check on the stage. Shane had no idea his mom and dad and brother were coming up. So they got to surprise him.”

Goins won’t offer any hints about where this year’s donation will go, but there will be another.

“This is what Peacemaker is all about — making a difference, not just at home, but anywhere we can.”




Music Festival

WHAT — A two-day music festival featuring Shane Smith and the Saints, Marcus King, 49 Winchester, Meg McRee, Taylor Hunnicut, Maggie Antone, JR Carroll, The Red Clay Strays, Slade Coulter, The Weathered Souls, The Lowdown Drifters, Joe Stamm, Palmer Anthony, Reid Haughton, Nolan Taylor and an After Party with Calder Allen.

WHEN — Gates open at 1 p.m. July 28-29

WHERE — Harry E. Kelly Riverfront Amphitheater, 121 Riverfront Drive in Fort Smith

COST — $60-$165 for single day passes; $79.50 to $479 for two-day passes. Other options available, prices increase on July 28.


Categories: Music