TOWN OF NEKIMI – Another year of muddy conditions isn’t stopping the annual Country USA festival near Oshkosh.
As FOX 11 first told you Monday night, up to 800 campsites on the grounds are too muddy to use.
The five-day event began Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m. Organizers are expecting big crowds throughout the week because tickets are sold out.
Country music fans say they’re going to deal with the mud.
“It’s part of the fun,” said Breana Cunningham of Oshkosh.
The effects of recent rain are evident on the Country USA grounds. Maintenance workers have spread a lot of wood chips on walkways.
“I know the camp sites are just mud everywhere,” said Cunningham.
“It’s all muddy,” said Nic Dallgas of Port Washington. “Smells kind of bad.”
It rained even more Tuesday afternoon, but it’s not bothering Dallgas.
“I like it,” he said. “I like to be in the mud.”
Country USA promoter Dan Liebhauser says hundreds of sites aren’t being used because of muddy roads around the sites.
“We saw that coming, and we created a new area to be able to transplant those,” said Liebhauser. “Well, let’s face it. We don’t want those campsites and ankles in water, so we’re moving them to another site if they get really bad.”
He isn’t sure if the changes caused some camping groups to be split up.
“It’s such an enormous undertaking with 3,000 campsites, that well the best we can do is our best,” said Liebhauser.
Tara Bitterman is the festival’s food staff manager. She says conditions won’t stop any fun.
“With all of the rain that we’ve had, it’s fantastic with what the grounds look like,” said Bitterman. “Would have been nice to have some nice, dry weather, but with the sun and the breeze today, I’m seeing that we’re going to get things dried up pretty good.”
Liebhauser admits it’s a challenge, but says the area will be maintained throughout the week.
“I think we’re on the right track,” he said. “We’ve got a heck of a line-up coming up, and these grounds need to be in perfect shape for these people.”
The grounds have to hold up for a while, as music at Country USA will last past midnight each night. Singer Luke Bryan was Tuesday night’s headliner.
Organizers say 45 to 50 thousand fans could be in Tuesday’s crowd, which would be the largest attendance ever for Country USA. The festival runs through Saturday.