Bayfest kicks off tomorrow four-day music festival with country music legend Toby Keith

Sarnia's Rogers Bayfest annual music festival kicks off tomorrow when it welcomes country music legend Toby Keith to its stage.

Sarnia Bayfest 2012 is expected to be one of the largest in the event's 13-year history and attract tens of thousands of people from across North America to witness diverse headliners signed for the 4-day outdoor live music juggernaut.

This year's festival lineup boasts iconic music and artists ranging from tomorrow's headliner Toby Keith to John Mellencamp to Iron Maiden and Alice Cooper to Hedley, Simple Plan and Offspring.

To kick the festival off tomorrow, Toby Keith is set to take over the Bayfest stage, for the second time since 2007, making sure the festival is a party all night long. From his first single and No. 1 smash hit Should've Been A Cowboy to his latest album and Billboard Top Country Album chart-topper Clancy's Tavern, Toby Keith has been one of the most consistent self-directed country hit makers of his generation.

“Toby Keith is at the top of the country charts, it’s a great addition to the Rogers Bayfest line-up which has a little something for everyone,” said Bayfest's director of operations Nick Stokely.

Keith will be joined by emerging country artist Brantley Gilbert who has already released two albums since 2005 and is flanked by such hits as Kick It in the Sticks, Country Must Be Country Wide, and You Don't Know Her Like I Do.

Gilbert has also shown his success as a writer as Jason Aldean re-recorded Gilbert’s original song My Kind of Party and followed up with another song he wrote for Aldean called Dirt Road Anthem.

“Brantley Gilbert is the next big thing in country and will impress all of our country fans, he is definitely an artist you don’t want to miss," added Stokely.

As the hours count down, Sarnia will, for four days, become a prime tourism destination as it does every year at this time. Many of the area motels and hotels are booked solid through the weekend and any remaining availability is expected to disappear quickly.

Michele Stokely also announced recently that opening acts will be treated exactly the same as headliners when it comes to the length of the sets. In short, concert-goers will experience even more value in this respect than in years past and get to see the opening acts perform full sets  instead of just 40 or 50 minutes.

“We’re treating opening acts as co-headliners,” said Bayfest organizer and co-founder Michele Stokely.

She added that all the headliners are indicating that they are playing over two-hour sets.

The 60' by 40' Bayfest stage, easily one of the largest single-tier stages in Canada, arrived last week and was assembled by a 55 person crew over five days.

This year’s lineup is highly anticipated by fans for having something for everyone.

“This will be by far be our most diverse Bayfest line-up to date, everyone will be able to find something they like,” said Nick Stokely about this year's music festival.

July 12:

Emerson Drive: 6:40 p.m.

Brantley Gilbert: 7:45 p.m.

Toby Keith: 9:30 p.m.

July 13:

Cowboy Junkies: 6:45 p.m.

The Sheepdogs: 8:00 p.m.

John Mellencamp: 9:45 p.m.

July 14:

Bleeker Ridge: 5:45 p.m.

Alice Cooper: 6:45 p.m.

Iron Maiden: 9:00 p.m.

July 15 (afternoon):

USS: 1:00 p.m.

Big Wreck: 1:45 p.m.

Hedley: 3:00 p.m.

July 15 (evening):

Papa Roach: 6:45 p.m.

Simple Plan: 8:15 p.m.

The Offspring: 10:00 p.m.

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