With Walton backing, Lollapalooza promoter plans music, art festival in Bentonville

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 50,053 views 

Sugar Creek Airstrip at 3100 Price Coffee Road in Bentonville will be the site of the inaugural Format festival on Sept. 23-25. (Photo by Zak Heald).

The festival organizer behind one of the country’s most well-known music festivals is planning a significant tourism event in Benton County this fall that will incorporate music, art and technology, further enhancing the region’s reputation as an emerging cultural destination.

FORMAT (For Music+Art+Technology) will take place Sept. 23-25, the first weekend of fall, at the 250-acre Sugar Creek Airstrip at 3100 Price Coffee Road, approximately four miles northeast of downtown Bentonville.

According to a news release Tuesday (April 19), more than 50 artists are expected to perform day and night during the 72-hour event, including Rüfüs Du Sol, Phoenix, Khruangbin, Beach House, The War On Drugs, Nile Rodgers & CHIC, The Flaming Lips, Jungle and Herbie Hancock.

Integrated performances, installations and art events from world-renowned artists including Doug Aitken, Nick Cave, Jacolby Satterwhite, Pia Camil, Marinella Senatore, assume vivid astro focus and Maurizio Cattelan’s Toiletpaper Magazine are also part of the festival.

Austin, Texas-based production company C3 Presents, the company behind multiple music festivals and other live events including Lollapalooza, and New York-based multidisciplinary creative agency Triadic are producing FORMAT.

There is, of course, a Walton connection to the event. FORMAT is presented with Bentonville partners Oz Brands, a compilation of outdoor recreation and art initiatives, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and the Momentary, the museum’s satellite contemporary art space.

Oz Brands, consisting of Oz Art, Oz Trails and Fly Oz, are initiatives by Runway Group, a business team led by Steuart Walton and younger brother Tom Walton. A Walton affiliate also owns the Sugar Creek Airstrip property.

“With FORMAT in Oz, we’ve tried to capture all the things that make Northwest Arkansas one of the fastest-growing and most dynamic ecosystems in the country — unparalleled access to outdoor recreation, accessible art everywhere you turn, and a culture of innovation as boundless and wild as the Ozark mountains,” Olivia Walton, Crystal Bridges and Momentary board chair, said in a statement. Walton is married to Tom Walton, a nephew of Crystal Bridges founder Alice Walton, the only daughter of Walmart Inc. founders Sam and Helen Walton. “We’re excited that FORMAT will help us introduce this corner of the Heartland to art and music fans from around the world.”

According to the release, FORMAT “will be a micro-universe of interactive exploration, from curated food vendors, impromptu dance processions and experimental soundscapes, to light shows, therapeutic workshops, and uniquely integrated technology activations.”

There will be several stages for headline acts in addition to hidden forest areas, an open-air pavilion, a converted disco barn, and a speakeasy, all designed in collaboration with artists and architects.

“FORMAT represents a new type of festival, placing visual and performing arts on the same plane as live music, creating a fluid and unified experience,” Elizabeth Edelman, Mafalda Millies and Roya Sachs, co-founders of Triadic and creators of FORMAT, said in the release. “Visitors will encounter large-scale installation art and unconventional venues created by a range of internationally recognized artists, alongside an eclectic roster of musical acts. We hope to foster curiosity and discovery, and produce a memorable event on this beautiful, hidden stretch of land in Bentonville.”

Crystal Bridges and the Momentary will also host performances, programming and events for festival attendees throughout the weekend. Tickets go on sale Friday (April 22) with an SMS presale at 10 a.m. and general tickets at noon. Options include three-day general admission, three-day VIP and three-day platinum tickets, hotel packages, and a limited number of unique on-site camping experiences ranging from standard to luxury.

More information about FORMAT ticketing, performers and schedules are available at this link. A C3 Presents spokeswoman said organizers expect to sell 10,000 to 15,000 tickets.