FORT WORTH, Texas — In the heart of Fort Worth's Cultural District, the Fortress Festival is ready to welcome thousands for a weekend of music.
It's the third year for the homegrown festival, but this year it's getting special attention because of its headline act. Fort Worth's own Leon Bridges will take the stage on Sunday.
"This year with Leon, I think it really came together for a lot of people," festival co-founder Alec Jhangiani said. "It was really that sort of concrete connection with the community. It shines a light on this whole music side of the city."
The festival is nearly sold out, and organizers expect to host some 14,000 people over two days. The festival promises acts from around the world and access to events at The Modern Art Museum, just a short walk away from the main stage. Galleries will be open late for festival attendees.
Jhangiani said that most of attendees come from Fort Worth, but they have also had people come from 33 different states in past years. They are working to increase their profile on the festival circuit across the country.
Fort Worth has increasingly been turning to music as a way to bring in visitors and to share its story to outsiders. The city's visitors bureau, Visit Fort Worth, has focused on the power of music and is working to help support the local music culture.
"Tourism is growing in Fort Worth," Visit Fort Worth's Mitch Whitten said. "We've surpassed 9 million visitors, and the music scene is growing right along with that."
The bureau is providing gas card grants to local acts to help them go on tour and be ambassadors for Fort Worth across the country. They are also helping four local artists through a partnership with Niles City Sound, the local recording studio that helped launch Leon Bridges' career. The artists will be able to record and produce music at the studio as part of the program.
"Leon Bridges has been a catalyst, and there's so much talent coming right alongside," Whitten said.
The Fortress Festival will welcome Bridges and acts from around the world. While Fort Worth has a rich tradition of hosting country music acts, this festival is not built around that genre.
"We knew that's what people would expect, and we wanted it to be unexpected," Jhangiani said.