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Country music singers, from left, Canaan Smith and Micheal Ray performed at the 2017 ND Country Fest in New Salem. Submitted photo via Bismarck Tribune

ND Country music festival could draw 10,000

NEW SALEM, N.D. — As many as 10,000 attendees are expected nightly as the ND Country Fest launches its second annual event in July. Local and national acts will be showcased over the three-day festival.

Mandan High School junior and local singer Brianna Helbling, 17, will be performing the opening night of the festival with her band, The Outsiders.

"I'm excited to gain more experience and meet new people," Helbling said Monday, Jan. 22, at a Mandan press conference in which the lineup was announced. "Country music is what I listen to all the time; it's what I sing and meeting people who love country music like I do and watching the other acts and learning from them. I am super excited for all that."

The festival, sponsored by Bill Barth Ford dealership, will take place July 12-14 at the Morton County Fairgrounds in New Salem.

"It's a place and a state where people love country music; they love to have a good time. Why hasn't it happened on such larger scale?" said Luke Shafer, festival founder and owner, of the appeal of such an event in North Dakota. "There is a need there and there is something that we can actually do."

Last year's festival drew attendees from 21 states and 102 cities across the country.

The first night of the festival includes free admission with a suggested $10 donation at the door. All of the donation proceeds will go to the Morton County 4-H and Morton County FFA organizations.

"It's a North Dakota event and we're super proud of it. We're going to bring tons and tons of people from other states who enjoy the North Dakota experience," Schafer said.

For more information, including show times, ticket pricing and camping details visit

The lineup

Thursday, July 12

5 p.m. - Festival gates pen

6 p.m. - Small Town Boys

7:30 p.m. - Brianna Helbling

9:30 p.m. - Confederate Railroad

11:30 p.m. - DJ Night Life

1 a.m. - Festival closes

Friday, July 13

2 p.m. - Festival gates open

3:30 p.m. - Raynes

5 p.m. - Church of Cash

7:30 p.m. - Neal McCoy

9:30 p.m. - Montgomery Gentry featuring Eddie Montgomery

11:30 p.m. - DJ Night Life

1 a.m. - Festival closes

Saturday, July 14

2 p.m. - Festival gates open

3:30 p.m. - Lexi Wyman

5 p.m. - Joe Schmidt

7 p.m. - AMS Polaris give away

7:30 p.m. - Heli-Drop

8 p.m. - Clay Walker

10 p.m. - LOCASH

11:30 p.m. - DJ Night Life

1 a.m. - Festival closes