Country Stampede runs with efficiency of a small city

A man gets a highfive on 'high-five friday' at Kicker Country Stampede in Tuttle Creek State Park on June 24, 2011. (File Photo by Lauren Gocken | The Collegian)

Kicker Country Stampede is multi-day, multi-faceted music festival with enough moving parts that to Wayne Rouse, president and general manager of Country Stampede, it’s the equivalent of running a small city. As a result, around a dozen managers and coordination of several different departments is crucial in order for things to run smoothly.

“We become a small city out there in the campgrounds, so we have some of the same issues,” Rouse said. “We have sanitation departments, law enforcement; it’s just having a well-coordinated team. It’s not easy by any means, but it just seems like it flows pretty well.”

Stampede also hires several interns each year. Taylor Hart, junior in marketing and marketing intern for the event, applied to the internship last year and was not offered the position at that time, but she was offered and accepted the internship after applying a second time.

“I went to Stampede last year and thought it was really cool, and I wondered what it would be like to be on the other side,” she said.

Hart said she began working with Stampede in February to prepare for this year’s festival, and that her favorite part of the internship has been helping put the celebrity auction together.

“It’s been so much fun getting donations to raise money for local nonprofit organizations here in town,” she said. “It’s going straight back to Manhattan – that’s where my minor in nonprofit leadership comes in.”

In order to attract high-profile performers to Country Stampede, Rouse said they needed someone who works in the industry specifically to develop relationships with managers and artists. Performers are selected for each year’s lineup based on results of a survey taken through the Convention and Visitors Bureau and online, and then performers are reached out to in order of rank.

Rouse said there are many variables involved in the process of hiring performers such as conflicting schedules and performances and newer groups preferring to tour with major headliners rather than perform at a festival.

“A lot of acts that are just getting into the mainstream, we can’t typically get confirmation on them until November or December,” Rouse said. “We’ve been working on 2017 since last year; you have to start it that early because the major acts are putting all their tours together.”

This year’s performers include Tim McGraw, Dierks Bentley, Sam Hunt, Jake Owen and several others. In addition to the concerts themselves, Carlos O’Kelly’s Radio World will offer several different activities and games to entertain attendees throughout the event.

Adrienne Hayes, operations manager for Country Stampede, said weather usually poses the biggest challenge for getting everything together for the music festival.

“It’s unpredictable and we don’t really have any control over it, but the best thing about that is the team of people we work with,” Hayes said. “We always just make it work and make it happen no matter what’s going on. A lot of my challenges are related to just managing what comes my way; not trying to prevent it, but managing it once it’s happened and problem-solving.”

Rouse said educating people about the importance of staying hydrated while being outside in the hot weather is an important part of ensuring the festival runs smoothly, but that there is always an emergency medical services tent in case attendees do become dehydrated, ill or otherwise injured.