3. Guthrie’s River Ruckus
Guthrie’s River Ruckus is the most fun and affordable festival in the state of Iowa where some of the best acts in country music share the Guthrie Center stage every July! Win a truck and camper through the annual giveaway, ride the mechanical bull, enter the beer can chucking contest.
Tailgating here is all about having a portable pool (you’d be surprised at what passes as a pool) and American flags. And the food is like anything you’d find at a Fourth of July party: hot dogs and hamburgers with ketchup, mustard and a big frosty drink. Campsites are available but in limited supply, so organize yours early to avoid the disappointment of missing out on the campground tailgating at this festival in particular.
2. Willamette Country Music Festival
Willamette Country Music Festival is as big, wild and beautiful as its Brownsville, Oregon setting. There are 15 places to park your trailer or tent here, meaning 15 grounds on which to tailgate. There is also a glamping section where VIP-priced tickets get you a whole lot of things, including getting one further away from the down and dirty tailgating action. The upside to glamping is that ticket holders get to meet artists like The Band Perry, Rascal Flatts and Luke Bryan after their set.
Get ready to eat a lot of festival-style foods here but because it’s also Oregon there are enough locally grown vegan treats and juices for when deep fried snickerdoodles just won’t do.
WEFest touts itself as “America’s biggest country music & camping show” because it packs the first weekend in August with about as much country music as three days and the Soo Pass Ranch in Detroit Lakes can hold.
The single stage venue sits in the middle of several overnight parking lots that spider out from it like little peninsulas. That’s where the tailgating happens at WEFest.
Pre-tailgate, you can enjoy artists like Eric Church, Kid Rock and Tim McGraw at WEFest. The tailgating area can be described by the two things you see the most: cowgirls and tents. If cowgirls were a nomadic species this would make sense anywhere else but WEFest.
There’s a real “love everybody” Cali-cowboy feel to this festival, so you can actually find some interesting world foods and food trucks that cater to specific diet. When day three comes and you haven’t seen a veggie since last week, you’ll be happy for the variety.
Enjoy the Food, Music and Friends
Tailgating and country music festivals go so beautifully together because they are practical, allowing us to save on booze and food by bringing our own but they also force us to gather with strangers in our shared love of country music, which helps us experience these festivals like nomads on a pilgrimage. It’s just the kind of hippie mentality that most musicians wish their audience would adopt.