The inaugural festival was produced by Brian O’Connell, president of Live Nation’s country division and six-time winner of the Country Music Association award for 'Promoter of the Year'.
When discussing the festival to Billboard Magazine, O'Connell said: "Watershed is an idea that we have been kicking around for a number of years. The Pacific Northwest is a real special place in our country. I've been doing shows up there at the Gorge for years, and Jeff Trisler, my partner at Live Nation and I got to talking about it, and we finally made the call six to eight months ago. I think it will be one of the most unique festivals that we have. We're not trying to be anything more than Watershed. It's going to have its' own unique signature. It's got the beauty of the Gorge, and the Columbia River. It's something that can't be duplicated anywhere else."