Stagecoach 2022 kicks off on Friday (April 29), and for the first time, on often-seen and controversial image will be prohibited at the festival: The Confederate flag.
Ahead of the Friday’s festivities, the festival made an update to the rules section of the Stagecoach website, according to a report from the Desert Sun: “No divisive symbols, including, without limitation, Confederate flags and racially disparaging or other inappropriate imagery/public displays.”
That update to the rules applies not only to the festival grounds, but also to the overnight campsite that serves as home base for fans during the three-day music event.
The country genre has a long, fraught history with the Confederate flag and its implications. David Allan Coe, Alabama, Hank Williams Jr. and more artists are all well known for using the flag on album covers and as stage dressing in the past, but in recent years — and amid country music’s recent reckoning with its own history of racism — a new generation of artists have stepped away from the symbolism.
Luke Combs, one of the headliners of Stagecoach 2022, joined a 2021 Country Radio Seminar panel where he apologized for some old publicity photos of his that featured the flag. Maren Morris — another artist who’s playing this year’s festival — was also on that panel. Morris has been vocal about the importance of racial inclusion in country music throughout the past few years, but during this conversation, she focused on her experience of growing up in the South, and how little she understood the flag’s hurtful implications at that time.
She then called for the flag to be banned from country concerts and events.
“I see the Confederate flags in the parking lots, [and] I don’t want to play those festivals anymore,” she says. “I feel like the most powerful thing as artists in our position right now is to make those demands … That’s one of the things we can do, is say, ‘Nope, I’m not doing this, get rid of them.'”
2022 Country Music Festivals Guide
Enjoy an updated list of country music’s best festivals, across America, Canada, Great Britain and more. This list of 2022 country fests will be updated to reflect postponements, cancelations or lineup adjustments.