Though WE Fest's official Military Appreciation ceremony was held on Friday, Big & Rich kept the sentiment going Saturday night with a tribute of their own, inviting all the veterans and active service men and women in the crowd to come up on stage, get introduced and be honored for their service.

About a half dozen people in the crowd took advantage (including one Canadian!) — and before they disappeared back into the crowd, each was invited to step on up to the "Big & Rich Heroes Bar" and enjoy a shot of whiskey. Of course, the whiskey that was served was John Rich's signature brand, Redneck Riviera.

The band then invited the crowd to their glasses (or bottles, or cans, as the case may be) in a "toast to freedom," followed by a sing-along to the patriotic tune, "God Bless America."

The WE Fest crowd raised their glasses (and and bottles, and cans) in a "toast to freedom" at Saturday night's WE Fest, as Big & Rich honored the armed forces with an extended tribute during their set at the festival. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)
The WE Fest crowd raised their glasses (and and bottles, and cans) in a "toast to freedom" at Saturday night's WE Fest, as Big & Rich honored the armed forces with an extended tribute during their set at the festival. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

They're not the same person

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Early in his headlining set on Saturday, Chris Stapleton invited Jamey Johnson back on stage to perform with him, "thereby proving we're not the same person," he joked, referring to the fact that the two country stars sport a similar look, with long hair, long beards and cowboy hats.

Earlier in the evening, Johnson had kept the crowd entertained with a soulful set of his own, before getting them pumped up for Stapleton's WE Fest debut with a final medley of covers that included Don Williams' "Livin' on Tulsa Time" and more classics like "Eastbound and Down," "I Saw the Light," "I'll Fly Away," "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" and "This Little Light of Mine."

Unfortunately, the start of Stapleton's set was delayed by about 15 minutes so some sound issues could be resolved, but the crowd didn't seem to mind extending their stay a little longer.

Chris Stapleton made his WE Fest debut as Saturday night's headliner, showing off both his guitar and vocal talents on hits like "Nobody to Blame," "Fire Away," and of course, "Tennessee Whiskey." (Photo courtesy of Aly Goelzer / Townsquare Media)
Chris Stapleton made his WE Fest debut as Saturday night's headliner, showing off both his guitar and vocal talents on hits like "Nobody to Blame," "Fire Away," and of course, "Tennessee Whiskey." (Photo courtesy of Aly Goelzer / Townsquare Media)
Jamey Johnson's Saturday night set at WE Fest 2019 injected a little soulful blues into the proceedings, as he brought along a horn section to accompany him on hits like "Rainy Night in Georgia" and "Just Give It Away." (Photo courtesy of Aly Goelzer / Townsquare Media)
Jamey Johnson's Saturday night set at WE Fest 2019 injected a little soulful blues into the proceedings, as he brought along a horn section to accompany him on hits like "Rainy Night in Georgia" and "Just Give It Away." (Photo courtesy of Aly Goelzer / Townsquare Media)

Bloomington man wins WE Fest Raffle

After volunteers spent the weekend busily selling tickets for the annual WE Fest raffle sponsored by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Detroit Lakes and Perham, the winner was finally announced by Boys & Girls Director Pat Petermann between performances by Big & Rich and Jamey Johnson on Saturday night.

The winner was John Szafraniec from Bloomington, Minn. “He bought one ticket and was a very happy man to have won!” Petermann said.

Each summer for the past eight years, the two clubs have partnered with WE Fest to give away a brand-new RV (pictured), plus box seats and camping to attend next year's WE Fest. The raffle generates approximately $30,000 to support club programming each year.

This RV was given away this weekend, along with a 2020 WE Fest ticket and camping package, as part of a raffle benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Detroit Lakes and Perham. Boys & Girls Club volunteers spent the weekend selling raffle tickets at the WE Fest campground. John Szafraniec from Bloomington, Minn., was the lucky winner. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)
This RV was given away this weekend, along with a 2020 WE Fest ticket and camping package, as part of a raffle benefiting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Detroit Lakes and Perham. Boys & Girls Club volunteers spent the weekend selling raffle tickets at the WE Fest campground. John Szafraniec from Bloomington, Minn., was the lucky winner. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)