Goin’ To The Lake: WE Fest In Detroit Lakes (Day 1)

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — All summer long, we’re embracing lake life across Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

In this week’s edition of Goin’ To The Lake, Chris Shaffer and Jennifer Mayerle join thousands of country music fans who made the annual pilgrimage to Detroit Lakes for WE Fest!

The Origins Of WE Fest

WE Fest is the biggest country music camping festival in the United States – and this is its 35th year.

The headliners this weekend are Lady Antebellum, Zac Brown Band and Luke Bryan. Not bad, and there are more than a dozen other great acts!

The festival is expected to draw about 150,000 people to Detroit Lakes this weekend, and there are 10,000 campsites in the festival’s immediate area.

The guy who started the festival first looked for a location to hold it in Wisconsin, but we’re happy it ended up in Detroit Lakes

The stage is at the bottom of a natural amphitheater. All around the seating area are vendors selling food, clothes and maybe a little beer!

WCCO has been to Detroit Lakes for Goin’ to the Lake before, but we’ve never stopped at WE Fest. The two really go hand in hand.

With 150,000 people here for the festival, business in town is booming. Hotels are full, bars are hopping and the city is really getting a chance to show off why it’s such a great stop any time of year.

Meet WE Fest’s Police

People come back year after year to camp with friends they met at WE Fest. And festival goers will notice a heavy police presence around the grounds. They’re in place to keep everyone safe.

The Becker County Sheriff’s office has nearly two dozen full-time deputies working at WE Fest, and they have a command center from White Earth Police.

It’s all hands on deck for the weekend, because they really see it all.

“Every year we respond to disorderly conducts, fights, assaults, you know, so we expect that,” said Becker County Sheriff Todd Glander. “We hope it doesn’t happen, but we know that something will happen, so we just have to prepare and respond when it happens.”

Camping At WE Fest

The music started at WE Fest Thursday at 2 p.m., and it will go until 1 a.m. — then they’ll do it all again Friday. It’s a non-stop party until Sunday.

But if you need to get away from this for a little while, head to town and relax in Detroit Lakes.

WE Fest Bean Bag Tournament

There was a huge bean bag tournament Thursday at the WE Fest campground.

There are 128 teams and two brackets: the Miller Lite bracket and the Leinenkugel’s bracket.

They will crown a bags champ Friday. The winner gets a free pass to next year’s WE Fest.

When you’re at WE Fest, cowboy boots and hats are pretty much required.

Jennifer and Chris found a shop Thursday and picked up some equipment.

She went with the Kenny Chesney-style hat, while Chris went with one reminiscent of Tim McGraw.

Camping At WE Fest

The music is just a small part of WE Fest. If you really want to get a feel for it — head to the campground!

Most of the action happens at the Soo Pass Ranch, and the campgrounds around the festival are packed.

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