This weekend marks the start of one of the largest country music festivals in the United States. Stagecoach (http://www.stagecoachfestival.com), first held in 2007, is an annual music festival hosting acts that range from country music, bluegrass, and country rock.  80,000 people are expected to attend this year at the Empire Polo Club grounds.

Last night’s Stagecoach Pre-party held at Jackalope Ranch, part of the Kaiser Family of Restaurants in Indio, featured Capital Records artist, Jon Pardi, a Stagecoach headliner this year.  Vehicles started to line up by 4:30 to gain access to the parking lot. If you don’t already have tickets, this was your last chance to win 3-day passes to the event from Big 106, a local radio station. This was a nice way to kick off the festival and the family-friendly event at Jackalope played host to guests of all ages, from prancing youngsters in cowboy boots, to aging, but clean-shaven bikers, and would-be Lotharios.

The fun factor of partying within the campgrounds at Stagecoach is almost on par with the actual musical performances.  If you’re not up to roughing it, check out the gorgeous La Quinta Resort& Club, located nearby and serviced by the festival shuttle. This luxurious, yet secluded resort will delight your senses and is the perfect oasis to rejuvenate after each day of the festival. With 41 pools and 5 golf courses, this hacienda style property has been hosting guests since 1926.

Early risers might want to check out the Certified Farmers’ Market in Old Town La Quinta which is held on Sunday mornings beginning at 8:30am. On April 27th, the market will feature a special Earth Week Exhibition, showcasing businesses that provide ‘green’ products and services.

The equally popular Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival took place over the previous two weekends on the same grounds and hosted crowds of approximately 90,000. The weekend weather forecast for Stagecoach predicts slighter cooler temperatures and less sand storms, a blessing for those attending this weekend.

Helpful Tips

Bring sunscreen, your cowboy hat and something to sit on between performances.

Don’t wear white. You’ll only regret it.

Turn your cell phone to airplane mode to save the battery so you can take lots of pictures.

Although parking is free, be safe and take the shuttle which services many of the local area hotels with 12 available stops. An Any Line Shuttle Pass costs $70 and can be purchased online.

A bandana helps if a sudden sand storm does occur.  It also makes you look really cool.