By the fall of 2022, Michael Jackson, of Mr. Mike's Productions, was already in the midst of planning Soul Fest 2023.
In fact, one of the acts he had booked by then prompted a change in the schedule for the annual, live-music festival, which features blues and Southern Soul.
Jackson set Soul Fest 2023 for May 5 in order to secure headliner King George, one of the most sought-after singers on the blues and southern soul circuit.
King George is perhaps best known for the single, "Keep on Rollin'", a southern soul smash that has been in heavy rotation over the past year.
"King George is the hottest person out in Southern Soul right now. I had been trying to get him and he has been booked up all this year and pretty much all next year," Jackson said last October.
Soul Fest is a one-day event that is held each spring, typically on Saturday.
The event has been extended to two days only one other time in more than two decades.
In 2021, Jackson added a Friday night leg due to a last-minute scheduling conflict with one of the acts who was originally set to take the stage on Saturday but had to be bumped up to Friday.
Jackson learned last fall that King George was already booked for a show on May 6 this year, so he moved Soul Fest 2023 to Friday, May 5.
Jackson also said last fall that he was considering expanding Soul Fest 2023 to two days and he announced then that he was working on an entertainment lineup for May 6, per inquiries from out-of-towners who were planning to attend Soul Fest on May 5.
The event typically draws hundreds of blues and Southern Soul fans to the Union County Fairgrounds each year -- including ticket-buyers from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee and a dedicated group from Las Vegas.
This year is no different, Jackson said.
"The show was Friday and I have a lot of people who were coming from out of town and they had bought tickets," Jackson said.
"They said they were staying until Saturday and they were asking what was going on for Saturday, so I decided to add a part two and a different lineup for Saturday," he explained.
His efforts have come to fruition.
The 22nd annual Soul Fest will be held May 5 and 6 at the Union County Fairgrounds, 1430 E. 19th St.
Ticket sales are already underway and time is running out to take advantage of early-bird prices.
Gates open at 5 p.m. for Part 1 of Soul Fest and the show starts at 8 p.m.
Headliners and featured acts who will join King George on May 5 include other popular blues and Southern Soul artists who have performed for other shows presented over the years by Mr. Mike's Productions.
LJ Echols, Avail Hollywood, Rodnae Da Boss and El Dorado's own Benito Glosson, "The Teddy Bear of Southern Soul", will also take the stage May 5.
The show will be hosted by 2 Legit and DJs Big Daddy in Da Mixx and Banks will also entertain the crowd.
A bigger musical lineup is in store for the Saturday leg of Soul Fest.
Gates open at 3 p.m. and the show starts at 5 p.m. The earlier schedule will accommodate the larger slate of performers for Part 2, which includes Wendell B, Marcellus The Singer, the PC Band, Roi Chip Anthony, Sassy D, Lil CJ, Ghetto Cowboy and Suga.
Host 2 Legit will return to host Part 2. DJs Big Daddy and The Godfather are part of the lineup for day two of Soul Fest.
Photo and vendor booths will be onsite both nights.
Jackson is encouraging fans to bring their lawn chairs and enjoy both nights of the show.
He said pre-show tickets sales have been going well and he has heard positive feedback about the two-night schedule and the roster of performers.
"People have been saying they're looking forward to it," Jackson said.
General admission for the May 5 show is $35 until Monday. Prices will increase to $40 on Tuesday, Jackson said. Tickets will be $50 at the gate.
For the May 6 leg of the show, early-bird tickets for general admission are $20 until Monday.
Prices will go up to $30 on Tuesday and then $40 at the gate.
To purchase tickets, including VIP tickets, or for more information, call Jackson at 870-866-7441. Tickets may also be purchased at www.eventbrite.com.