In this Sept. 5, 2013, photo Marcus Mumford, of the band Mumford & Sons, lights a cigarette as he walks out of Byron Berline’s Double Stop Fiddle Shop in Guthrie,, Okla. The population of the small Oklahoma town is expected to quadruple this weekend as people come to watch the British folk rock band on the second stop of the Mumford & Sons’ Gentlemen of the Road concert series in Guthrie. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
GUTHRIE, Okla. (AP) — The population of the Oklahoma town of Guthrie is expected to quadruple in size this weekend as more than 35,000 people descend on the area to watch British rockers Mumford & Sons perform on the second of three U.S. stops in the Gentlemen of the Road concert series.
In addition to the folk rock band, other performers include Alabama Shakes, indie folk band Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and English indie rock band The Vaccines.
The main performances are taking place just a few blocks from historic downtown Guthrie, in an area called Cottonwood Flats. Thousands of concert-goers are expected to spend the weekend camping out in tents nearby.
Other performances and a festival are taking place in downtown Guthrie. Roads have been closed and British flags and signs welcoming concert-goers are draped all over the community.
Local hotels have been booked for months and other communities are expected to see an overflow, said Guthrie City Manager Sereniah Breland. Thousands of campers have been registered as well. Breland said concert tickets have been sold in nearly every state and a handful of other countries. The two-day event is expected to contribute $300,000 in sales tax revenue for the town.
So why was Guthrie selected for a stop?
Don Sullivan, vice president of concert promoter Jam Productions, said Mumford & Sons was interested in trying to do something in Oklahoma. Looking at Google Maps, the concert promoters discovered that Guthrie, with a population of 10,000 people, looked similar to previous concert stops last year. The promoters and the band’s U.S. management team then toured the area multiple times and met with local government officials.
“For Guthrie, it was obvious to us that we were welcomed with open arms by the city, and the town has a unique charm that we felt matched previous stopovers and that the band and their fans would enjoy,” Sullivan said.
Guthrie was the capital of Oklahoma from 1907 to 1910. A portion of the downtown district has been designated a National Historic Landmark and several of its historic buildings and architecture still stand today. Many people travel to the town to see and experience a historic piece of Oklahoma.
Troy, Ohio, hosted the series’ first stop last weekend. St. Augustine, Fla., will be the site of the third and final U.S. stop next weekend.
Businesses in Guthrie are preparing for the influx of customers by staying open longer and stocking up on merchandise, Breland said.
Windi Potter, owner of Ella Rose Boutique in downtown Guthrie, said she wasn’t sure what to expect but is planning to stay open until about midnight on Friday and Saturday night. The store usually closes at 5:30 p.m. She’ll also open on Sunday, which is typically a day off for her.
Potter has hung several signs in the store windows welcoming fans and showing off merchandise.
Kristen Lancette, 33, drove with her friend Mickey Ormsby, 32, from the Minneapolis area to attend the stopover. The pair broke up the 12-hour drive into two days and spent Friday morning shopping in downtown Guthrie.
“It’s the cutest town ever,” Lancette said. “Everybody is so friendly and welcoming us with open arms.”
Like thousands of others, the two are camping out near the concert grounds. But with overnight temperatures in the 70s, Ormsby said the first night was “steamy” and they expect it to only get worse as more people arrive and crowd into the area.