Country Thunder Music Festival

country thunder music festival
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Simply put, Country Thunder is the rootin’-tootin’est, shit-kickin’est, dagnabbittin’-est doggum country music festival this side of the Mason-Dixon. Held every summer in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin (just a couple hours from Chicago) the Country Thunder experience is damn near unparalleled in the Midwest. It’s an old-school three-day musical extravaganza with all the accompanying Bacchanalia and excess that you’d expect from a three-day country show in the middle of the sticks in Wisconsin. The good ol’ boy vibe prevails, Daisy Duke types frolic and often respond positively to that timeless cry of “Show us your TITS!”, and the heavy-hitters of the Country/Western world provide the soundtrack.

“Hahaha!” you skeptics say. “How could a country music show that is held in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin (WISCONSIN?!?) really represent for the Country/Western world?” To that I say, have you ever been to Wisconsin? This might be a bit of a digression, but I’ve seen tons of pickup trucks in Wisconsin with Confederate flag decals and vinyl press-on “The South Will Rise Again” stickers. Which isn’t to say that all country fans are rednecks and hillbillies… but you know what I mean. To me country music serves more as a sort of reflection of working-class, blue-collar values. It has a built-in connection to outdoorsmanship, fast cars, bar fights, wallowing in self-pity sometimes and partying your ass off others. All of these things go down HARD in Wisconsin. Country music is huge in the “Badger State” and it’s easy to understand why. Rural is rural, and although a Damn Yankee like me might automatically (and maybe unfairly) associate country music with the rural South specifically, this type of music and the culture it engenders is equally present in Northern states like Wisconsin where people hunt, fish, and drink Busch golden-tops just as much as they do in Houston, Bogalusa, and Tallahassee.

Now to the nitty-gritty. The 2010 Country Thunder will be held from July 22nd – July 25th. The headliners are Kenny Chesney, Sugarland, and Miranda Lambert. Kevin Costner’s band Modern West will also be performing (OMG! Could they be any better than Billy Bob Thornton’s band or Jared Leto’s?) The main way people do Country Thunder is to come up for the whole weekend and camp out so as to maximize the party and get in as much music as possible. There is a large campsite at the venue but the biggest and best way to do it up in Twin Lakes is with an RV. There is a huge RV area and that seems to be where the craziest shit goes down. Sidenote: every year it seems like at least one drunken fool dies by falling off the top of an RV (where people post up to drink the day away and take in the atmosphere). So be careful! I’ll leave you with the following caveat from the event’s official website…

“Cancellation of or impact on the event due to an act of God, riots, strikes, labor difficulties, epidemics, and any act or order of any public authority or any cause, similar or dissimilar, beyond the control of Country Thunder, reserves ticket holder/purchaser no right to refund or exchange, and Country Thunder is not obligated to provide a substitute performance.”

I would usually discard this as the rote legal mumbo-jumbo fine-print that we’re all used to, but at Country Thunder I wouldn’t be surprised if any of those things were actually to take place… and I mean that in the best possible way and with all due respect. If you like Country music, day drinking, third-degree sunburns, and you want a bucket-load of fond memories, get some of your pals together and head North to paradise!

Max Wolod

About Max Wolod

I’m a Chicago lifer. I studied Creative Writing at Tulane University in New Orleans but my prodigal ass returned to Rogers Park a year ago and for keeps. If I had a tattoo it would be a phantasmagorical BearBullHawk riding the Sears Tower a la Dr. Strangelove. My pastimes include eating and drinking to excess and lamenting another woeful year for the (INSERT CHICAGO SPORTS TEAM). I represent Rogers Park and the Tao of Ditka. Amen.

One Comment

  • suzanne halsey
    July 14, 2010 | Permalink | Reply

    No one has ever died at Country Thunder. The craziest parties go down in the campground, not the RV park. The only time there are Confederate Flags in Twin Lakes is when the flatlanders get kicked out of Lake Geneva and make their way to Twin Lakes. You are right tho, it is a great time with great music.

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