Country Music Festival Season Preview: Have you ordered your Mini-Biff?
"Load up the RV, mama - we're goin' to WE Fest."
Photo by Nikki Miller Toby Keith at 2011's MN State Fair
You wish. Working stiffs like us don't get Fridays off, and we ain't got no RV. Maybe you ain't even got no mama. Poor you. But for those with mamas, vacation time, and an RV (or the dogged tenacity to sleep in a hot, muddy tent next to the portable johns), the end of spring means it will soon be country music festival season.It all kicks off on June 8 with Winsted's Winstock Music Festival.
Here's your mini-guide to summer country music festivals, should you find yourself a mama. Just be a good daddy, and pack her some extra toilet paper for that potty.
Winstock Country Music Festival
$120-180 (VIP tickets sold out), plus $20-90 for parking/camping
Highlights: Willie Nelson, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Blake Shelton, Martina McBride, rent your own Mini-Biff, and a campsite decorating contest (theme: your favorite Willie Nelson song).
Watch out for: Uncle Kracker, no keg beer or "large amounts of beer" allowed in camping areas.
$43.75-525, plus $20-105 for parking/camping
Highlights: Dierks Bentley, Sugarland, Brad Paisley and The Band Perry.
Watch out for: Don't miss Jerome and Dan, the water guys. Flag them down if you need to get your pool filled. Yes, some people not only have mamas, Fridays off and an RV, but they also travel with pools. Avoid them, as well.
Prior Lake Rotary Club's Lakefront Music Fest
Prior Lake, MN
$10-15 (one paid admission buys you gate entry for both nights)
Highlights: Travis Tritt, Mitch Ryder and Creedence Clearwater Revisited (featuring CCR's original rhythm section), plus proceeds benefit the Rotary Club and other local non-profits.
Watch out for: In the unlikely event John Fogerty should make an unannounced appearance, audience members ought beware the ghost of Tom Fogerty. Oh, and of course GB Leighton's playing this thing. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Eau Claire, WI
$30-495, plus $10/day parking, $15/person for access to camping sites, and $55-220 for camping
Highlights: Trace Adkins, Craig Morgan, Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean. You might want to drop an extra $50 for a "Country Club" membership - it buys you access to the country club tent which hosts artist interviews, free snacks between shows, discounted drinks and access to a private bar and restroom, DJs, prize drawings, and - best of all - a commemorative mug.
Watch out for: Aside from a few of the warmup acts, Country Jam's lineup is, uh, kinda offensively heavy on the testosterone.
Detroit Lakes, MN
$134 General Admission (VIP sold out), plus $65-110 for camping and $20 for parking
Highlights: Alabama reunion! Plus Toby Keith, Steve Martin
and the Steep Canyon Rangers, John Anderson, Sawyer Brown, Little Big Town
Watch out for: Between the Alabama reunion and Steve Martin, this one's pretty much a sure bet. Only thing to watch out for is the over-the-top pyrotechnics that will no doubt be a part of Toby Keith's show.
$45-180, plus $5-60 for camping (free parking)
Highlights: Randy Houser (a guy we enjoyed seeing a few years back at the Cabooze), Josh Thompson and Sunny Sweeney, all performing in a pole barn. The show benefits the Farmington Rotary Club.
Watch out for: The lineup lacks a chart-topping headliner, and is heavy on local bands, but hey - tickets and camping are pretty affordable. And we loves us some Randy Houser.