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WE Fest kicks off with two nights of free music

Though the Main Stage at the Soo Pass Ranch won't be open for business until Thursday afternoon, the 32nd annual WE Fest officially kicks off tonight and Wednesday with two free nights of music.

The Barn Stage (located adjacent to the Ranch House Saloon, on the north side of the main concert bowl) will open its doors to the general public at 8 p.m., with local favorites Silverado set to take the stage at 9 p.m. They will be followed by two other well-known regional acts, Redline at 10:30 p.m. and Maiden Dixie at midnight.

Silverado is a group of four Fargo-Moorhead area musicians -- including Detroit Lakes' own Terry Mackner -- who formed a country band back in 2000. Since then, the local boys' popularity has grown steadily. Redline is another up-and-coming, high octane Fargo band that includes former members of 32 Below, The Roosters, Face for Radio and Fat Daddy's, while Maiden Dixie is an eclectic group of Minneapolis musicians who burst on the Minnesota music scene in 2011. Redline is also set to perform on WE Fest's Main Stage Thursday at 2:45 p.m., while Maiden Dixie will fill that same slot in Friday afternoon's lineup.

Wednesday night, the Barn Stage reopens at 6:30 p.m., with Maiden Dixie returning for a 7 p.m. set. They will be followed by Sundy Best at 9 p.m. and Blackjack Billy at 11 p.m. Sundy Best is a Kentucky-based pair of storytellers and musicians who have been friends since elementary school, while Blackjack Billy is a high-energy quintet who have coined their style of music as "Redneck Rock." Blackjack Billy had their first big hit this past year with "The Booze Cruise," and will also play Thursday night (Friday morning) on the Barn Stage, following the conclusion of Main Stage headliner Jason Aldean's set at approximately 12:30 a.m.

Both nights of music are "free to everyone," according to John Gourley, chief marketing officer for WE Fest's parent company, Festivals And Concert Events (FACE) Inc. The Ranch House will also be open both nights for socializing. 

On Thursday, the main event begins with Redline's set on the Main Stage at 2:45 p.m., followed by up-and-coming Tennessee songbird Ashley Monroe at 4:15 p.m. She will be followed by Charlie Worsham at 6:15 p.m., Florida Georgia Line at 8:30 p.m., and headliner Jason Aldean will close out the Main Stage show at 10:45 p.m.

Friday's Main Stage lineup begins with Maiden Dixie at 2:45 p.m., followed by Chris Janson at 4:15 p.m., Randy Houser at 6:15 p.m., The Band Perry at 8:30 p.m. -- making their first WE Fest appearance -- and headliner Brad Paisley at 10:45 p.m. Following his own afternoon WE Fest debut, Janson will do a second set on the Barn Stage at 12:30 a.m.

The music resumes on the Main Stage Saturday at 2:45 p.m. with another WE Fest first-timer, Chris Hawkey, who will be followed by husband-and-wife duo Thompson Square at 4:15 p.m. Two familiar WE Fest faces, Travis Tritt and Brantley Gilbert, take the stage at 6:15 and 8:30 p.m., respectively, while the Zac Brown Band -- also making their WE Fest debut -- closes out this year's Main Stage performances at 10:45 p.m.

"We've been trying to get Zac Brown and The Band Perry here for years and years," Gourley said. "We are thrilled to welcome both of them for their first time at WE Fest this year."

Hawkey performs again on the Barn Stage at 12:30 a.m. to finish out the weekend's festivities at the Soo Pass.

While there are "a very limited number" of both camping and music passes for this weekend still available, said Gourley, "I’d encourage people not to wait to buy them. This is going to be a record year. It appears we're going to surpass the 30th anniversary in terms of the number of people."

For those already thinking of WE Fest 2015, tickets are on sale now for that event as well. Husband-and-wife chart-toppers Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert were announced as next year's headliners when the tickets first went on sale July 7, and Gourley said additional 2015 performers will most likely be announced at the conclusion of this weekend's festivities.

For more information on ticket prices and availability, visit the website at or call the box office at 800-493-3378. 

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454