DETROIT LAKES, Minn. WE Fest, one of the leading country music festivals in the U.S., will be making its long-awaited return to Detroit Lakes' Soo Pass Ranch Aug. 5-7.

In preparation for getting "Back to Fun in '21," festival organizers are making major crowd-pleasing improvements to the property south of Detroit Lakes off Highway 59, as well as to its onsite amenities.

“WE Fest is so much more than a concert,” says Mark Bjerke, WE Fest’s general sales manager. “We do our best to create a fun atmosphere with a variety of experiences including camping, food, crafts, boots, hats, bull riding and even helicopter rides! We aim to boost the camaraderie for our ‘WE Fest Family’ regulars as well as first time guests."

Bjerke, who has more than 30 years of personal and professional experience as part of the WE Fest family, says that new festival partners Matt Mithun and Live Nation are serious about wanting to bring it back to its local roots.

"Attendees will see a lot of familiar faces back this year, including some they maybe haven't seen in a while," he said. "We really want to get back to that 'family' feel again.

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"This is a local show — this is our concert," he added.

In addition to bringing back familiar faces in as many places as they can, major improvements have been made to the general admission area of the concert bowl, as well as to the Main Stage and Ranch House building.

Upgrades to the venue and the WE Fest experience include:

  • The general admission area has been expanded and moved 200 feet closer to the Main Stage. The update will provide general admission attendees more room to spread out and will provide notable improvements in sightlines to the stage. The newly opened general admission area will be for standing room only, Bjerke noted; no chairs will be allowed in that area this year.
  • The Main Stage is undergoing some big updates to improve sightlines as well as to prepare it for bigger and better things to come in 2022. Among other improvements, the main deck of the stage is being completely replaced, Bjerke said.

Construction crews were hard at work this past Monday, June 7, replacing the roof of WE Fest's Main Stage. The stage will also be getting a new deck, as the old one was completely removed. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)
Construction crews were hard at work this past Monday, June 7, replacing the roof of WE Fest's Main Stage. The stage will also be getting a new deck, as the old one was completely removed. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

  • Renovations to WE Fest's food and beverage venues. For instance, Bjerke said, the Ranch House Saloon will once again open its doors to all patrons, with a new outdoor deck and additional bars. "It will be way more inviting than it was before," Bjerke said of the saloon area.

WE Fest's Ranch House building is also getting a major upgrade this summer, including a new wrap-around deck outside the saloon and a half-roof above the deck. The saloon is also getting some new bars and will be opened to all WE Fest patrons this year. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)
WE Fest's Ranch House building is also getting a major upgrade this summer, including a new wrap-around deck outside the saloon and a half-roof above the deck. The saloon is also getting some new bars and will be opened to all WE Fest patrons this year. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

  • The East GMC Building has been removed to make room for an extended bar service area for VIP and general admission patrons. Guests will also have additional food options this year, as WE Fest organizers are expecting 27 food vendors in the concert bowl area, many more than in years past.

A large concession building on the east side of WE Fest's concert bowl has been removed and the ground seeded with grass (in the area marked with orange cones). The new grassy area will enable general admission concert goers to stand and watch the concert from 200 feet closer to the Main Stage. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)
A large concession building on the east side of WE Fest's concert bowl has been removed and the ground seeded with grass (in the area marked with orange cones). The new grassy area will enable general admission concert goers to stand and watch the concert from 200 feet closer to the Main Stage. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

  • The Trading Post has been expanded to host a robust merchandise and craft market, with an additional 25 vendors.

In addition to site upgrades, WE Fest organizers have announced a couple more improvements to the overall WE Fest experience:

  • The concert bowl will now open up at noon Friday and Saturday, two hours earlier than in past years. Enjoy the bars, grab lunch, shop the vendors, and check out the super competitive Coors Bags Competition and other tournament style games.
  • Get “WE Fest-ing” early at the two-day Kickoff Party on Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 3-4. Hosted by longtime WE Fest MC Tom Katt. Wednesday guests will enjoy Barn Stage performances by Shane Martin, Tripwire, and The Cadillac Three, among others. There will also be a DJ spinning tunes inside the Ranch House Saloon on both Tuesday and Wednesday. The Kickoff Party will also include a costume competition, Bjerke said. Guests are encouraged to dress like their favorite country star, with the grand prize for “Best Dressed” being a massive 2022 WE Fest ticket package including a three-day, four-person pack of general admission tickets and VIP camping, plus “New in ‘22” Pit Passes.

If you go

What: WE Fest 2021

When: Thursday, Aug. 5 through Saturday, Aug. 7, plus 2-day Kickoff Party, Aug. 3-4

Where: Soo Pass Ranch, Detroit Lakes

Who: Headliners include Florida Georgia Line, Aug. 5; Dierks Bentley, Aug. 6; and Blake Shelton, Aug. 7, as well as country singer and actress Kellie Pickler, who will serve as mistress of ceremonies for the three-day festival. Other artists in the lineup include LANCO, Russell Dickerson, Eli Young Band, The Cadillac Three, Lindsay Ell, Maddie and Tae, Ingrid Andress, High Valley, Raelynn, Larry Fleet, Shy Carter, Kameron Marlowe, Shane Martin, Trip Wire, Slamabama, 32 Below and Erin Grand.

How: For more information and to purchase tickets, visit wefest.com.