As the Pendleton Whisky Music Fest has grown, so has its kickoff party.
A Friday night concert on South Main Street the evening before Whisky Fest, the kickoff concert is expecting to attract more than 6,000 people, organizer Andy McAnally wrote in an email.
As a result of the anticipated crowds, Whisky Fest is hiring a second band to entertain an audience preparing for the July 13 main event at the Round-Up Grounds.
The kickoff party will feature holdovers DJ Sovern-T and Precious Byrd, a self-described “dance band” from Bend.
The acts will be joined by newcomer Kurt Van Meter, a former Hillsboro cop whose brush with death inspired him to pursue a career in country music.
The event, which runs from 6 p.m. to midnight, will mainly take place on the 200 block of Main Street, although a section of the 300 block next to the Pendleton Farmers Market will be open to kickoff party food vendors.
The Pendleton Police Department will close the 200 block of Main Street at 4 a.m. on July 12, with the 300 block to follow at 2 p.m.
Whisky Fest has also filled out the rest of its July 13 slate to compliment headline acts Post Malone and 50 Cent.
This year, organizers are going heavy on hip-hop acts, with all five performers associated with the genre.
Before 50 Cent takes the stage, Whisky Fest will feature a performance from Tyla Yaweh, a Florida rapper and singer who is signed to Post Malone’s record label and has performed with him on tour.
Although this year’s Whisky Fest doesn’t have the same kind of country acts it’s had in years past, Blanco Brown, another of the opening acts, combines country and rap in a style he calls “trailer trap.”
Opening the whole show as the first act is Grieves, a Seattle rapper who released a new single, “Let the Devil In,” in March.
DJ Sovern-T will return to do DJ sets between each act. Gates open at 4 p.m.