LEHMAN TOWNSHIP, PIKE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Friday is the first festival at the new Poconos Park is set to kick off, and it’s expected to bring thousands of people to the area.

“Today is the day. It’s almost showtime,” said John M. Oakes, CEO of Poconos Park.

John M. Oakes started his morning taking it all in. He has spent a lifetime preparing for this moment.

“The beginning really goes back to when I was a school skipping truant in high school. I started working with my childhood best friend’s band to promote concerts for their band. It just continued to escalate. Now we’re here,” reflected Oakes.

The newly renovated, multi-purpose event center: Poconos Park.

“People love to escape, people love to enjoy live music and this beautiful facility just needed a little dusting to come back to life,” said Oakes.

Come back to life after the Mountain Laurel Performing Arts Center, once touted as a crown jewel for the Poconos, closed nearly a decade ago.

The facility is ready just in time for its first festival, the Cowboy Luau, a two-day concert event featuring some of the biggest names in country music.

The first 200 people will get a chance to play a game. Participants could take home one of these prizes, including a 2022 road glide special from Pocono Mountain Harley Davidson.

Behind the scenes, staff worked hard to ensure the artists like Brett Young and Brantley Gilbert felt right at home by decorating their dressing rooms, creating a new health and wellness area, and even leaving little postcards they can send home.

“We’re not actually related, but we’re all pretty much a tight-knit family. It’s a smaller skeleton crew than what would normally operate an amphitheater or a festival,” explained Kristen Schloesser, senior director of staff & artist relations.

A big weekend ahead for what could be the next crown jewel for the Poconos.

Gates open Friday afternoon at 3:00 P.M. and Saturday at 1:00 P.M.

For more information, visit the Cowboy Luau website.