Winstock ’17 brought a flavor of the south up north
Rivaling 2016 for literally the hottest Winstock Country Music Festival ever, Winstock ’17 brought the heat (and the wind) and ultimately an energetic and fun concert experience.
For its 24th year, Winstock concert goers and volunteers endured temperatures in the 90s plus Minnesota humidity, the wind, and a strong weather pattern that moved through the area Sunday morning as folks were preparing to leave Winstock and head for home.
However, things were even hotter on the T-Mobile stage with Friday headliner Keith Urban.
“He’s an unbelievable talent and he’s definitely in a class by himself,” Winstock Country Music Festival Chairman Dave Danielson said. “He’s just a great personality and a great person.”
Danielson said Urban’s singing and instrumental ability is second to none and said he’s one that will do what it takes to entertain the fans.
“To be able to go out into the crowd and give away a guitar – that’s phenomenal,” he said. “He is the definition of what we look for in all our entertainers – we try to give the audience a great experience. And there is no question he does just that.”
Danielson said the newly-wed couple from Lester Prairie that Urban brought on stage during his set had an unforgettable start to their honeymoon and marriage. He also noted Carrie Underwood made an appearance at Winstock for the second year in a row – albeit on the jumbo screen.
“We’ve been trying to get Carrie Underwood to perform live at Winstock for years, but we might have to settle for seeing her on the big screens singing duets,” he said with a laugh. Last year, Underwood was brought in for the Brad Paisley duet “Remind Me,” and this year, Urban welcomed her with the smash-hit “The Fighter.”
Shifting to Saturday at Winstock, Danielson said Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd was a classic for him. The 11.5-minute rendition of “Freebird” is something he won’t soon forget.
“It’s an experience that leaves you breathless,” he said. “They really set the tone for the whole evening, and Brantley (Gilbert) stepped it up and continued what Skynyrd started. He built on it and put on a great show.”
Another highlight Danielson noted was the duo LOCASH’s performance.
“They’re bringing a whole different spin to country music,” he said. “They’re another act that will do whatever it takes to please the crowd. They also went out and spent a little time in the campground mingling and visiting with our fans before their show.”
In a surprise move, “Dave from Watertown” was welcomed back to the Winstock stage for the second year in a row. Last year, Thomas Rhett spotted Dave from Watertown, AKA Dave Matter, wearing a cowboy hat and brought him on the Winstock stage to sing and dance a little with Rhett. This year, LOCASH again spotted Matter and pulled him up on the Winstock stage.
“The LOCASH guys started calling him Bubba, but everyone knew his name from last year and before long everyone was chanting ‘Dave, Dave, Dave,” Danielson said. “It was a pretty neat experience.”
Each year at Winstock, several up-and-coming acts are showcased on the emerging artist stage.
“Ryan Hurd looks to be like several of our other emerging artists, where he will go from the emerging artist stage to eventually playing on the main stage,” Danielson said. “From his songwriting to his voice, to getting the crowd involved with his show, he’s a great talent.”
Trio Runaway June, which performed twice Friday night, had their second set inadvertently cut short due to a technical timing issue.
“We want to apologize to them and to the fans who were enjoying their set,” Danielson said.
Also making their Winstock debuts were Tucker Beathard, Drake White and the Big Fire, Lindsay Ell, Dylan Jakobsen, Brooke Eden, and Copperhead Creek. Returning favorites included Little Big Town, Chris Hawkey, Shane Martin, and Copperhead Creek. New in 2017 was also the Winstock Medallion Hunt, which was well-received by fans, and will return next year.
Friday night at Winstock, disc jockeys Levi and Amy James from K102 announced Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, and Brothers Osborne will perform at Winstock’s 25th anniversary in 2018, set for Friday-Saturday, June 8-9.
“Everybody I talked to was just pumped about who we already have signed for next year,” Danielson said. “We’re still looking at doing some other things to make the 25th very special.
Danielson advised fans to be sure to get tickets early.
“We are anticipating a sell-out based on pre-sales at this year’s event for next year, so get your tickets early so you’re not left out,” he said. Tickets are available by phone only by calling (320) 485-4287, and then watch winstockfestival.com and Winstock’s social media for updates on artist lineup announcements and ticket sales to resume online this fall.
New at Winstock this year was the addition of more emergency medical professionals from Ridgeview Medical Center on-site.
“The medical situations we had were taken care of well with a doctor and ER nurse on site,” Danielson said. “We were able to treat patients at the scene rather than send them to the ER, which was good to not tie up ambulances for transports. They were able to help people in need so they could stay and continue to have a great experience at Winstock. We were able to take care of most of them without transporting.”
The weather pattern that moved into the area Sunday morning also provided an interesting end to this year’s event.
“We got a 5:30 a.m. wake-up call letting us know there was the potential for severe weather with high winds projected to hit our area at 8:15,” Danielson said. “It caused some anxiety, but we executed our pre-planned inclement weather protocol and, thank the Lord, it sounded like everyone got through it with minimal issues.”
The weather and wind also brought additional cleanup, with Danielson expressing appreciation to the campers and everyone who helped clean the grounds as well as possible.
“As always, we can’t thank everyone enough for coming and enjoying Winstock and supporting Holy Trinity Schools, and also everyone who volunteers their time and talents to make this happen,”, Danielson said. “We hope everyone comes back and helps us celebrate our 25th anniversary.”