Now that we really, really know that WE Fest has been sold, Detroit Lakers can get down to business: speculating on what happens next.
Fargo Forum columnist Mike McFeely reported last week after the sale that the new rumor around the lakes area is that WE Fest might someday move from the Soo Pass Ranch to closer to the Twin Cities.
Today, in the afterglow of the just-completed WE Fest 2019, we prefer to lean into our optimism.
The sale of dozens of Townsquare Media live events to concert behemoth Live Nation Entertainment seems to be a giant positive -- at least for right now.
Townsquare is not in the events business; on the company's second-quarter investors call Tuesday, Aug. 6, Townsquare officials reiterated their commitment to the local markets they serve with digital advertising.
Live Nation is events.
They own venues around the country and the world: in Chicago, Las Vegas, New Orleans, Denver, L.A., Miami, New York City, among dozens of others. You might have seen a performance at Live Nation's Minneapolis venue, the Varsity Theater in Dinkytown.
They own or promote events and tours and festivals: Monster Jam, Ozzfest, Austin City Limits festival, Bonnaroo and the just-completed Lollapalooza festival in Chicago.
Most of all, they are Ticketmaster: Any big-time tour or festival or artist is going to go through Live Nation.
These guys know what they are doing.
Why be optimistic that Live Nation will do better by DL than WE Fest's previous corporate owners? Lollapalooza is a good example of Live Nation resurrecting a classic brand for a new age, and building it again into a destination.
WE Fest still is one of the largest country music festivals in the country. It is synonymous with Detroit Lakes to country music fans, thousands of whom make a pilgrimage to Becker County annually.
That's loyalty and awareness money can't buy.
WE Fest is a legacy. Not just for fans and locals, but for the performing artists as well. Everyone reading this today has heard of superstar country acts shopping around Detroit Lakes, or hanging out with old friends.
That reputation is strong and, as a new generation of country artists comes up, festivals like WE are on their bucket lists.
And from a practical standpoint, a country artist can play WE Fest and the Twin Cities, both.
Look at Keith Urban's summer tour dates. The megawatt Australian star performed at Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming July 26, before heading to WE Fest in Detroit Lakes for his Aug. 1 performance.
The next day, he and his band made the four-hour trek down I-29 (we assume) to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for a county fair performance. Then it was six hours west on I-90 for the Sturgis Rally on Aug. 3.
Could Urban have supported an MSP gig on top of that? At Excel Center in St. Paul, or Target Field in Minneapolis, or at Live Nation's own theater venue, the Varsity?
We are betting he and many other acts absolutely could.
Logistically, WE Fest makes sense.
Live Nation also could look at an itinerary and, with its ticketing power and infrastructure, add another little festival to the Soo Pass Ranch -- wouldn't a rootsy jam-band festival be a wonderful draw out here?
We are not so naive as to think that Live Nation will take WE Fest back to its local roots. And, we could be proven wrong that the festival is on borrowed time, and the sky is falling.
But for now, we know two things for sure: Townsquare Media is gone, and WE Fest returns Aug. 6-8, 2020.
That's good news.