Founders Talks FarmBorough

FarmBorough, the first-ever country music festival in New York City, is a 50/50 partnership between Live Nation Entertainment and Founders Entertainment. With so much of the attention focused on Live Nation, Pollstar talked to Jordan Wolowitz, one of the three partners of Founders, which generated the idea. 

Farmborough, to take place on Randall’s Island outside of Manhattan June 26-28, will feature Dierks BentleyLuke Bryan and Brad Paisley as headliners. Also on the list are Wade BowenBrandy ClarkKip MooreAshley MonroeRandy Houser and Dwight Yoakam, with more to be announced.

The festival will feature VIP three-day packages with access to Skyline Lounge, featuring skyline views, private bars and other features. Live Nation’s chief of country music, Brian O’Connell, is credited with helping to launch this new festival. He has said he wants to create 10 new music festivals in 10 years, and it’s no secret that Live Nation – or any promoter for that matter – has kept an eye on the nation’s largest media market as a location.

Meanwhile, with the launch of NASH-FM and as acts like Luke Bryan and Eric Church are selling out Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center, New York has established itself as a fan of country music. But it was Founders Entertainment that got this festival under way. The young, independent company created Governors Ball Music Festival four years ago, proving Randall’s Island a viable place to hold an independent music event.

“We’ve known for the last couple of years we wanted to do a country festival,” Wolowitz told Pollstar. “Once we got Governors Ball dialed in, we thought a country music festival was the logical step. … Founders always wanted the festival to be on Randall’s because of the cost savings by leaving up your staging and production from Governors Ball. The savings are significant.”

Wolowitz began visiting Nashville, ingratiating himself with the label execs and music agents.

“It became clear that Brian O’Connell was the guy to speak with,” he said. “(Live Nation Entertainment CEO) Michael Rapino, whom I’m friendly with, put me in touch with Brian. I flew down and met him. We knew very little about each other. He knew I was a guy with a festival in New York, I knew he was a big country music promoter. We hung out for a couple hours and, most importantly, became really fast friends. We shared similar personalities, similar philosophies. We decided then and there to get going.”

The pairing made sense for both sides, Wolowitz said. “His team brings a wealth of experience and relationships in the country music world. We bring our experience in large-scale festivals on Randall’s Island, the knowledge of the market and the independent spirit that has made Governors Ball successful.”

Founders will help give Farmborough its nuances – its art installations, its food and drink program, and “things of that nature.”

Wolowitz noted that although Randall’s Island cannot offer an overnight experience, it’s an easy ingress and egress. The island is reached by the 125th Street bridge, which can be traversed by car or bicycle. There’s also the subway, city bus, ferry, taxi, or even by foot or rowboat.

“If you can think of a way to get there, you can get to Randall’s Island,” he said. “It’s a 15-minute cab ride from midtown Manhattan. You can either stay in a hotel, stay with your friends or go back to the house.”

Wolowitz founded the promotional company with Tom Russell and Yoni Reisman. The festival is expected to start around 1 p.m. each day and wrap around 11 p.m.