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Willie celebrates 40 years of picnics

Willie Nelson, playing at his 4th of July Picnic at Billy Bob's Texas on July 4. 

Photos by Kirsten Gallon

Willie Nelson put on  his 40th annual 4th of July Picnic at Billy Bob's Texas during a relatively cool July 4 holiday. 

Music at the event included Gary Allan, The Randy Rogers Band, Kris Kristofferson, Ryan Bingham, Jamey Johnson, and Justin Moore. Picnic staples Ray Wylie Hubbard, Johnny Bush, and Ray Price were on hand. In addition, Nelson's family - son Lukas and daughters Paula Nelson and Amy Nelson will join to play with their father, who turned 80 in April. .

“We are thrilled to play a small part in the 40-year history of the picnic and do it in the Fort Worth Stockyards. Our mission this year was to design a monumental event worthy of a 40-year anniversary and Willie’s 80th birthday. When you see it you will agree.” said Concho Minick,  Billy Bob's president, before the event. 

At its start in 1973, a then-40-year-old Willie Nelson decided to hold a music festival in a field in Dripping Springs. Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and Tom T. Hall headlined the festival that brought over 40,000 people to the inaugural run of what would become a Texas tradition.

Over the next 3 decades the picnic continued to hold steady in fans and entertainers, moving around various cities in Texas, from Austin to Luckenbach.

In 2004 Nelson announced at a press conference in the Fort Worth Stockyards that he was bringing his picnic to one of his boyhood homes – Fort Worth. 
 

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