By Maggie Dunning
“If the rest of world was like here, we’d all be a lot happier,” said Ron Meier, one of the many festival goers at the Winfield Fairgrounds. Meier had come to the Winfield Fairgrounds to participate in the line-up every year. Meier had only nice things to say about the line-up and the festival that follows.
In fact everyone waiting at the fairgrounds for the Land Rush had only nice things to say about the line-up, the festival, the fairgrounds, the bands, and the other people who camp in the fairgrounds during the line-up.
Meier has been coming out here for 27 years. Many people couldn’t ever imagine going and camping weeks in advance to watch a music festival.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the festival is one of the biggest in the Midwest, with close to 13,000 people attending it every year. Unlike the East Coast summer music festivals that have branched out and created new music festival genres with new followers, the Walnut Valley festival and line-up has people coming for years.
In Tina Sanders case, it isn’t the music festival from her first 1997 line-up festival that keeps her coming back. It’s the people she camps with. Sanders, another line-up fan, will tell you that no matter where you end up in the line-up you will always meet nice people and make new friendships that will last for as long as the people are alive.
Debbie Crable, a retired information technician worker, can attest to that fact. For many years she came and camped alone with groups of different people around her and never once did she feel unsafe or unwelcomed.
The line-up in Winfield is unique from other festivals where everyone goes for the artists, food or music. People come to Winfield to have fun times and find new friendships.
The festival isn’t all fun and games for everyone though. It takes a lot of hard work from many workers such as Rick Flottman, media coordinator for the festival, and Rick Snider, employee of the fairgrounds.
The main difference between the festival and the line-up is how many people each individually bring in.
The line-up brings in 1,500 to 1,800 people each year. The festival brings in approximately 13,000 people every year. It is the largest bluegrass festival in the Midwest.
The money that the festival brings to Cowley County and the surrounding counties is $3 million to $4 million estimates Meier. The money is split equally into different city funds.
The city of Winfield and the fairground improvement fund gets a percentage of the ticket sales. Businesses in Cowley County also get major economic boost from the festival attendees.
Snider does multiple jobs during festival time. He parks trailers, answers the phones, remembers the campers’ numbers and where they need to camp, and does the trash. During the festival and the line-up Snider gets about 5 hours of sleep every night.
Rick and Flottman are not the only employees working hard during festival time. Every year the festival hires an extra 500 to 600 employees to help keep the fairgrounds clean and the festival goers happy.
This year’s line-up started on Aug. 23 and will continue until Aug. 31. The festival on Sept. 12 and ends Sept. 16.
Maggie Dunning is a freshman majoring in mass communication. You may e-mail her at email@example.com.