June 1, 2007

Plenty of talent, new things to watch for at Winstock 2007

By Ryan Gueningsman
Staff Writer

Two artists set to perform at the 14th annual Winstock Country Music Festival this weekend took home the gold at the Academy of Country Music Awards May 15.

Miranda Lambert walked away with the top new female vocalist trophy, while Rodney Atkins took home the counterpart in the male artist category.

“We’ve got the new male and female vocalists of the year,” said festival chairman Dave Danielson. “It’s exciting to have them both at the same event.”

Headlining the two-day festival that has taken place in Winsted the past 13 years are Gretchen Wilson and Trace Adkins.

Wilson recently released “One of the Boys,” which is a follow-up to her top-selling debut “Here for the Party,” and “All Jacked Up.”

“Gretchen just released an album that’s been doing very well,” Danielson said.

Her two previous albums feature hits that have woven their way into becoming country music standards, like “Redneck Woman,” and “Here for the Party.” Wilson will close the show Friday with a set beginning at 10:45 p.m.

Trace Adkins has a list of hits to his name that’s as tall as, well, he is.

The 6’6” singer, who has appeared at Winstock in 2002 and 2004, makes his return this year, and in the time since his last appearance, has taken his career to the next level with his hits “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk,” “Ladies Love Country Boys,” and most recently, “I Wanna Feel Something.”

Adkins will end the party with a bang Saturday night, taking the stage at 10:30 p.m.

At Winstock this year, fans will notice several improvements to the grounds, as well as merchandise, according to Danielson.

Something fans won’t be able to miss will be the new permanent 24-foot-tall stage structure, built by Ram Buildings of Winsted.

A portion of the stage costs have been traded with Winstock for the rights to call it “The Ram Stage,” commented Gregg Machmehl of Ram Buildings.

“It’s a replacement of the collapsible version they had been renting in previous years,” Machmehl said.

Danielson said that ever since a few years back when heavy winds and rain knocked down their stage, Winstock organizers had looked at building something more durable and permanent.

“We started with the stage base three years ago, and now we have the roof,” Danielson said.

Past committee member and co-founder of the festival, Dick Langenfeld, spearheaded the stage project, Danielson said. While not looking at the stage, those attending Winstock will also notice a new front mixing/sound board area at the back of the VIP section, as well as an additional trailer to help with security needs.

Another new feature Winstock will be offering will be showers in the north side of campground A. Maui Showers will have a shower area set up, where campers can get a five-minute shower at a reasonable price, Danielson said.

Winstock has also made upgrades to its own merchandise line, and has moved its souvenir booth to a more prominent location on the grounds.

A new reserved seating section, immediately behind the VIP section, will also be in place at Winstock 2007.

More lights and less generator noise in the campgrounds is something the Winstock committee has worked on too since last year’s festival. This year, there will be no portable lights in campgrounds A, B, or D, Danielson said.

“They put up 23 light poles,” he said about the project spearheaded by committee member John Entinger and CR Electric of Winsted. “They went in one Saturday and installed 23 poles with fixtures and strung more than 4,500 linear feet of overhead power line to light the campgrounds and general parking lot – no more generator noise.”

Along with the improvements to the grounds and facilities, Winstock fans will notice the absence of long-time festival emcee John Hines, formerly of K102.

Hines, who is now on the air with KTLK, will return to Winstock this year to host the Saturday morning beer tent bash, beginning at 11 a.m., featuring music by White Creek, as well as many prize giveaways. Winstock’s new official emcee is set to be Muss from the K102 Wakeup Crew.

This will also be the last official festival for Fr. Paul Wolf of Holy Trinity. Wolf has served on the Winstock committee for most of his tenure at the local parish, and will be leaving in mid-June for a different assignment at Holy Redeemer in Marshall.

“We’re definitely losing one of our hardest workers,” Danielson said, adding he hopes Wolf will be able to come back and work at the festival in years to come.

As always, Danielson said the 13-member Winstock committee couldn’t pull a festival of this magnitude off without the numerous volunteers putting in countless hours to make things run smoothly.

“Without them, there wouldn’t be a Winstock,” he said. The committee includes Danielson, Wolf, Entinger, Judy Langenfeld, Tom and LuAnn Ollig, Bonnie Quast, Butch Amundson, Joe Rasset, Steve Laxen, Mike Henrich, Harvey Nowak, and Nancy Neumann.

Also on deck at Winstock

A top-notch lineup, plus some of the hottest regional and up-and-coming national talent make this year’s line-up a strong one.

Behind anchors Wilson and Adkins, and award winners Lambert and Atkins, the event will also feature The Bellamy Brothers making their first-ever Winstock appearance, taking the stage Saturday afternoon at 4:55 p.m.

The duo responsible for such hits as “Redneck Girl,” and “If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body (Would You Hold It Against Me)” will let their hits flow once stepping foot on stage.

One guy in Nashville who is bent on doing things his way, Eric Church, is also a shining star in the Winstock line-up.

Each of his singles, “How ‘Bout You,” “Two Pink Lines,” and “Guys Like Me,” are showing the industry quickly just what Church is about, and what he stands for.

“I’m very, very proud of where we are,” Church said in an interview prior to Winstock. “We definitely have a sound, and definitely have fans who have been very receptive to the sound.”

Veteran group Diamond Rio is sure to be a hit, as well, with their stunning number of top songs, including “Meet in the Middle,” and “Unbelievable.”

The six-member group follows Sarah Buxton on stage Friday evening. Buxton has also had some airplay with her hit “That Kind of Day,” as well as with Keith Urban’s song “Stupid Boy,” a song she co-wrote.

Rounding out the national talent on the ever-popular emerging artists stage at Winstock 2007 will be Flynnville Train and Halfway to Hazard.

Even though they are called Halfway to Hazard, and their first single is a song called “Daisy,” Chad Warrix and David Tolliver swear it was just a coincidence when it comes to any Dukes of Hazzard ties.

“We didn’t do that on purpose,” the two said in an interview last week, but they did admit they both were big fans of the Dukes growing up in Kentucky, near Hazard.

Local talent is in full force, as well, this year, with KeyStone featuring Brittany Lee.

Danielson called Lee “the next Carrie Underwood,” and said he sees big things in her future. She’ll kick off the entertainment on the emerging artists stage Friday, with shows at 7:50 p.m. and 9:55 p.m.

The Wayne Renn Band and The Marshall Star Band round out the regional talent, as both bands get things rolling on the main stage each day of the event.

Another first for Winstock is the appearance of Chopper – the World’s Nuttiest DJ, who will be performing Thursday night in the Winstock beer tent area following the spaghetti dinner sponsored by the Winsted Fire Department.

Other things to know if you’re going to Winstock

• The annual meeting for those who volunteer at Winstock will take place Wednesday, June 6 at 7 p.m. at the VIP tent.

Danielson encourages volunteers to park in the general parking lot, and said tickets will be on sale to volunteers at early bird prices.

• Tickets and camping passes for Winstock will be available at the gate; prices are $80 for a two-day general admission ticket, and $70 for a weekend camping pass.

• The campgrounds are open for admission Thursday from 3 to 9 p.m., with the fire department’s spaghetti dinner beginning at 5 p.m.

• For more information about the festival, including any last-minute announcements, visit www.winstockfestival.com.

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