DETROIT LAKES, Minn. — Soo Pass Ranch hummed with activity as crews worked Wednesday, July 31, to arrange final details for WE Fest.
Workers have been at the venue since July 14 to prepare for the country music festival, which runs from Aug. 1-3. And only a day out from the festivities, most everything looked to be in order — hundreds of yellow, orange and blue camping chairs lined the festival grounds, food and drink vendors were set up, and the stage loomed tall.
The only thing missing was the attendees, who've already started to stream into the festival's campgrounds, including siblings Jessica, Krissy, and Trevor Olafson, of Fargo.
Stocked with plenty of beer and Jell-O shots packed in a cooler, the Olafson's arrived at the campgrounds Tuesday, their camper decked out with flags, posters and decorations.
“We’ve got an America vibe here," Jessica explained. "The theme is 'God’s Country' by Blake Shelton."
The hit song intertwines themes of faith, patriotism and place, all of which are well represented in the music and the camper decorations at the festival, which the Olafson's view as a family affair.
“WE Fest gets such a bad name with people saying 'Oh people just go to get wasted,' but really it’s not," Jessica Olafson said, adding: "It’s about coming together, having a great time, meeting people."
Jessica, 29, and her 24-year-old sister Krissy Olafson characterize the festival-goers as a community, and that they keep in touch with friends from Canada and Minnesota they've met in previous years.
“You could walk up to a random campsite, and people would ask 'Do you need a drink? You need a water? A hot dog? Like whatever you need, we got you.'"
Trevor Olafson, 23, said his favorite part of WE Fest is the "friendly people."
"Everybody's happy," he said.
This year’s festival will mark Jessica Olafson's ninth WE Fest. She recalled the festivals in 2015 featuring Blake Shelton and 2016 featuring Kid Rock as standout memories. Her sister, 24-year-old Krissy Olafson raved about seeing Carrie Underwood at WE Fest.
"Best concert ever," she said.
As for this year, Jessica said she's most looking forward to Saturday's performances by Chris Stapleton and Jamey Johnson.
“That lineup is almost too perfect," she said.
Other acts include Keith Urban, Brooks & Dunn, LeAnn Rimes and Billy Currington, among others.
WE Fest has been held at the ranch in Detroit Lakes for more than 35 years. Attendance has ballooned to 150,000 in recent years, a far cry from its inaugural crowd of 9,000 in 1983.
Tickets can still be purchased online or at the box office. One-day tickets start at $198, and three-day tickets start at $233. To enter the campgrounds, purchase a separate campground ticket or a combo music-campground access ticket.