Three figures leaned in their chairs to take a closer look at a road map spread out on a table where county commissioners conduct their study sessions.
Sheriff Frank Kelly, Commissioner Tyler Vaughan and Road and Bridge Director J.R. McMahon were studying a route marked in bright yellow that was clearly visible on the black and white, photo-copied map of the northeast corner of the county. Red marks indicated where roadblocks would be placed.
The three men were not discussing a manhunt.
The objective of this meeting early Wednesday morning, June 12, before the start of the study session was to devise a route to safely navigate 20,000 people in and out of the Luke Bryan Farm Tour concert Oct. 3.
The trio thought it likely county commissioners would approve a special event permit for the country music concert at their regular meeting that afternoon.
Their assumption was correct. Luke Bryan’s Farm Tour is coming to Miami County.
The five county commissioners unanimously approved the special event permit for the concert, to be located in a pasture at MC Farms near the corner of West 255th Street and Pflumm Road.
“I personally have had tons of calls and conversations,” said commission chair Phil Dixon, who made the motion to approve the permit. “I’d say 99-plus percent are for it.”
Vaughan, who seconded Dixon’s motion, said he had taken a few calls from property owners close to the event who have concerns about the volume of people likely to attend the concert.
“I feel comfortable today that we will have a solid plan to communicate to them,” Vaughan said. “I think it’s important we acknowledge property rights and property owners in the vicinity. I think it’s more than fair to give them plenty of time and opportunity to understand what we are doing as a county to protect those property rights.”
County officials from several departments under the direction of County Administrator Shane Krull are developing a plan for orchestrating the concert with Luke Bryan’s event coordinators, including a finalized route map, which will be made public.
“I am very confident we are doing that, and I’m supportive of the concert as well, but also supportive of property rights,” Vaughan said.
Commissioner Rob Roberts said he had received more than two dozen emails about the concert.
“As of this morning I’ve had 27 separate emails from individuals that share the same passion we do that believe the Luke Bryan concert would be a great thing for Miami County.
Roberts said one of those emails was from Jenny O’Brien, who resides with her husband and two children on Chiles Airpark Road, directly north of MC Farms. Roberts shared her email at the study session that morning.
“We are in favor of the Luke Bryan tour coming to Miami County and delighted to hear Louisburg was chosen!! We welcome and embrace Luke Bryan coming to rural Miami County and this specific location,” O’Brien said in the email. “What a great way to showcase our beautiful countryside.”
O’Brien said in the email that many of her neighbors are in favor of the concert as well, though a few expressed concerns about safety and specifically keeping concert attendees off the runway at Chiles Airport.
“I feel confident that Miami County will be able to handle the safety and logistics for this event,” O’Brien writes.
Roberts said to receive an email from a resident living across from the venue site who expressed confidence in the county’s elected officials and staff was much appreciated and very telling.
“I want to make sure everyone understands how much support there is for this (concert),” Roberts said.
At the commission meeting, Louisburg Chamber of Commerce board member Joel Viterna emphasized the positive national exposure the Farm Tour has already given Louisburg and Miami County, both online and in national publications like Billboard Magazine.
“I put together (a handout of information) for you guys, just in case you hadn’t absorbed how big it really is for us,” Viterna said. “Luke Bryan has 8.8 million followers on Facebook, and the cover picture on his Facebook page right now is the Luke Bryan Farm Tour and on that says the words Louisburg Kansas,”
A video promoting the 2019 Farm Tour posted on the country star’s Instagram had already logged 99,986 views. Bryan’s website also promotes the Farm Tour and the Oct. 3 concert in Louisburg, along with ticket information. The website even offers T-shirts for sale that have Louisburg printed across a map of the state of Kansas, with the Farm Tour schedule on the back.
“I did a quick Google search just with the words Luke Bryan and for our area the first thing that pops up is Luke Bryan Louisburg Kansas MC Farms. That’s huge, huge,” Viterna said.
Viterna attended the 2017 Farm Tour concert near Baldwin City in Douglas County and said the event really went off without a hitch.
“I had an amazing time just as a concert-goer,” Viterna said.
Road and Bridge Director McMahon and Sheriff Kelly told the commissioners they were confident they could handle an undertaking this large. County officials have already reached out to their counterparts in Douglas County to discuss the 2017 concert.
“There will be some traffic delays, some queuing issues, that’s the nature of the beast,” McMahon said. “But I don’t see a problem.”
The concert’s timing is fortuitous because a section of Pflumm Road, between 247th and 255th streets, which would be on the route for the concert, is scheduled to be paved this summer.
“I want to make it clear this was already on the schedule; this isn’t something we’re doing just for the concert,” Roberts said of the road project.
That road-surfacing work would leave about 1,500 feet of gravel road, and Bryan’s event coordinator was receptive to paying for dust control, Krull said during the study session that morning. He said the county also will be talking with the coordinator about negotiating a fee for the county to provide additional law enforcement personnel to help with the event.
Also at the study session, commissioners discussed having a licensed company provide the portable restroom facilities, notifying the railroad about the event schedule so a train wouldn’t be stopped on the 255th Street crossing that could delay or reroute traffic, and contacting the school district’s bus company since classes will be in session in October and gates for the event are scheduled to open at 2 p.m.
They talked about Bryan’s event coordinator indicating they would have more than 100 licensed security guards at the concert with clearly marked T-shirts, coupled with personnel from the sheriff’s office on the scene.
“Gentleman, we are going to have an action plan,” Kelly said.
During the regular meeting, Roberts said support the community has already expressed for the concert is important.
“We appreciate the level of trust,” Roberts said. “We want more things like this to come to our county.”