Like the Walnut Valley Festival (“Bluegrass”), Country Round-Up and Wheatland Jam before it, Rock N’ Country has already developed a following of fans excited to hear the music and enjoy the fun that comes with camping.
“It’s a new event, and I know some of the people trying to run it, so I’m trying to support them,” said camper Lisa McChristian of Arkansas City. “I do camp a lot because I like being in and enjoying the outdoors.” McChristian set up camp at the Winfield Fairgrounds Wednesday with some family and friends from Wichita.
Whether it be word of mouth, wanting to spend time with friends and family or just to hear the music, dozens of campers cover the fairgrounds, filled with people chatting between shows.
“We come to Bluegrass; we came to Country Round-Up when it was here. We come to just about all of them we can. Even the Cowley County Fair in August and Fourth of July. We like camping; it’s like a home away from home,” said Max Cales. Cales and his wife Marsha have been camping for “about a week” near friends Dick and Linda Golightley.
Those attending the festival also enjoyed the weekend’s kick-off event, American Bandstand, on Thursday night.
“I thought the Bandstand was just great. They had some good performers,” said Rilla Ramirez. Ramirez, Arkansas City, is camping with her husband Rick, surrounded by friends from Topeka and Douglass.
Some describe this as the “perfect weekend,” as they can get away from their houses, jobs and responsibilities and enjoy their kind of music.
“We’re excited for this weekend. I’m rock, he’s country, so this works out really well for us,” said Cheri Henning, referring to the difference between her and and husband Maynard Henning’s musical tastes. “I’m looking forward to Firehouse and Warrant. He’s just looking forward for it to be Saturday’s concert.”
“We’ve been here since Memorial Day weekend. We wanted to keep our spot and to stay for Bandstand. We wanted to get away from the house because once you’re there, you’re pretty much stuck,” said David Miley. Miley is camping next to the Ramirez family and joked about the stack of Budweiser cans they created. “Once the canister is full, they’ll spray it with clear polyurethane glue so it’ll be a nice statue.”
Friends and family was the default reason most groups enjoyed being at the fairgrounds, but meeting new friends was another popular activity.
“We know pretty much everybody, and that’s why we are in the middle of all the camps, so we can wander around,” said Maynard.
“We’re all good neighbors here,” said Sheila Malone, Newkirk. Malone and her husband Troy are friends with the Hennings but parked their camper a short walk away so they could be with their friends as well.
Thus far, just sitting around, listening to the bands warm up or listening to the actual show, the crowd has enjoyed the experience.
“Somebody’s trying to do something good and fun for the community, and we’re here to support it. There should be a lot more people here,” said David Miley.
Rock N’ Country continues tonight with the country portion of the event and bull riding.