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Good times for WE Fest

With headline acts that included Rascal Flatts, Martina McBride, Brooks & Dunn, Big & Rich with Cowboy Troy Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban and Trisha Yearwood, it's no surprise that the 2006 edition of the WE Fest country music festival was completely sold out for the first time in its 25-year history.

And despite some thunderstorms that threatened to overtake the festival site and campgrounds on Friday and Saturday, there were no major weather mishaps over the weekend, according to WE Fest President Jeff Krueger.

"It was the best festival we've ever had," Krueger said, noting that despite the threatened storms, there were crowds upwards of 47,000 packing the concert bowl on all three days, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

And indeed, concert goers were standing or sitting shoulder to shoulder in the general admission area throughout the live music performances.

"We dodged a bullet with two big storms that were coming through (the area) -- the weather held," Krueger said.

The only problems that occurred were that the impending storm caused Friday's headliners, Brooks & Dunn, to take the stage a little earlier than planned, and the high winds that evening also caused the tent where the secondary stage near the Ranchhouse was located to have to be taken down.

"It's a big tent structure that can't take more than 30 mph winds," Krueger explained. "We had gusts that high on Friday, and it broke a cable (in the tent), so we had to take it down and fold it up."

The dismantling of that tent took about an hour and a half, which did cause all the acts scheduled on the secondary stage that evening to be delayed, Krueger said.

He also noted that the steel "skin" that formed the roof over the main stage had to be replaced shortly before the festival began, due to storm damage.

"It was very touch and go (weather-wise)," Krueger said, noting that there was a possibility of a tornado at one point on Saturday. "But by the grace of God, one (storm) went around us, and one dissipated.

"We just put things in God's hands, and there were no problems."

Indeed, despite those minor glitches, the weekend's festivities proceeded quite smoothly.

"The talent was just excellent -- all the headliners did a great job," Krueger said. "We were just really happy with everything."

Krueger also reported that the people camping at the Soo Pass Ranch and surrounding area were "well behaved and manageable," with few "incidents" of trouble between the campers.

He credits the experience and skill of the staff at Soo Pass Ranch with making the event the most successful WE Fest ever

"We'd like to thank everybody who participated, and the community for putting up with us for three days, as well as all the sponsors -- it was just a great team effort," he said. "We appreciate everyone who's helped us make this a success over the last 24 years."

Krueger also noted that plans were already forming to make next year -- the festival's 25th anniversary -- even better.

"We have a lot of things planned," he said. "We're going to have new grandstands, new ticket entrances, and we're going to add a new stage floor. We'll also finish our Walk of Fame."

Though the music lineup is still being formulated, Krueger said advance tickets for "Heaven in 2007" went on sale Tuesday via the festival's official Web site.

To purchase tickets, go to and click on the 25th Anniversary logo. Enter 2007 for the password to access the 2007 online ticket store.

"We're planning a bigger, better show next year," Krueger said.

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