Rock Fest, 2014. Caddott, Wisconsin. What a place to spend a weekend. I’m about as happy as this guy
There is no limit to the things one could talk about. One thing that stands out is the food. Well.. not really.. It’s like the Minnesota State Fair without all the deep-fried oddities. No, it’s just a bunch of regular deep-fried food deep-fried. But above the din of crackling grease, one stand’s above all else. For some reason, the Fresh Fries stand seems to capture the hearts and stomachs of any and all festival goers—including rock stars. Steven Tyler, Shim Moore, and Steel Panther all very publicly endorsed the potato boutique just to name a few. They did so in the middle of their sets. I, personally, got the 32 ounce and it was worth every calorie. Whatever is in that shaker is something magical.
But not everyone goes to Rock Fest with a pocketful of cash. There is another paradigm involved; the campsite food. Giant turkey fryers, smokers, and the simple campfire are the main means of heat available. Myself I cooked a meal consisting of beef stew meat, Chunky Broccoli Cheese Soup, fresh green tomatoes from my garden at home, and red potatoes. Everything combined in a tin-foil pan thingy and 45 minutes later, we ate like hobo kings! I’m sure I was not the most ingenious culinary mind there, but we ate well despite our lowly budget.
But people don’t wander hundreds of miles deep into Wisconsin for the food. They come for the music and, more importantly, the community. All walks of life end up here. I spoke to one guy who looked a bit like Sammy Hagar, turns out he’s a vibrations analyst for a natural gas company (real science-y stuff)… go figure. I even met Santa!
The people are accepting, and generous. One campsite even offered their specialized services at no charge!
And when I say all walks of life, I really mean it. I even met this amphibious citizen moving along the path. He didn’t say much, but he sure was in a hurry to get somewhere. He hung out with us near this suspiciously-poorly blurred bottle of name brand juice-water drink.
Though he wasn’t too keen to shoot the breeze, many of the other patrons were. I met this guy on his way back from raiding a town of innocent villagers. He seemed to be having some equilibrium issues.
These people may have been having some balance issues of their own, so the good-ole ground was a natural choice.
This guy is just plain dedicated… Yeah… that’s duct tape…
Later on I was have my own problems regarding uprightness… and apparently my camera was about half as intoxicated as I was…
But together, as a community, we are a stronger people. Even in the face of inebriation! You see, without friends, it’s a pretty tough environment. With friends… it’s still pretty tough. That’s why you need a TEAM!
These chicks seemed to get along just fine as a 3-piece
These guys didn’t get along at all… don’t let the smiles fool you. It’s cutthroat out here.
But, despite all the bad blood…
The true warriors keep their chin up, and don’t take no S#!t off’a nobody
And in the end it all comes down to love. You see, that’s what a music festival is really about: love. All terrible photo montages and quippy one-liners aside, this is a loving, nurturing environment. Yeah, there’s probably more beer bongs per acre than anywhere else in the Midwest right now, and there’s plenty of troublemakers, but most people are just here to have a good time with good people. If you ask anyone why they came to Rock Fest they’ll probably say whichever band they’re most excited for, but when you get down to it we’re all here for the people. If you told me I was gonna go out to the middle of nowhere for our days, get no sleep, be hung over half the time, get sunburnt to a crisp, and spend at least half a grand I’d have one thing to say.
I hope I get cool neighbors. amenities. they love eachother.
All kidding aside let’s talk ameneties. Two somewhat overpriced (albeit fairly, considering demand) general stores can be found near the entrance. Sunscreen, beer, cigarettes, blankets, ice, and all the other stuff you forgot to bring enough of can be bought there. The workers are mostly friendly, and willing to help (e.g. Call around to see if they have stock beyond what’s on the shelves.)
The showers were expectedly awful, but the line to wait was modest. You’re not there to get squeaky clean, so the fact that the water was hot and I didn’t have to stand in line for 2 hours was a godsend. They have VIP showers, but I was not so lucky to check those out.
The port-a-potties were numerous, and kept fairly clean. Those in the more secluded areas were pristine, while only a few (very few) were found in… squalorous conditions.
Of the hot food I can say with certainty that the Gyro’s, Reuben’s, Fries, Cheese Curds, Tacos, and Wings were all delicious. Had I tried any more of the food, I might have a chip on my shoulder[stomach] about it. The Margarita/Daiquiri stands were awesome. They claim to have 1.5 shots per drink, but I believe that claim to be erroneous. It was more like 2 shots per drink. Again, they were awesome. Also, whatever a lemonade shakeup is, they are delicious. And according to reputable sources (my girlfriend), they are REAL shakeups!
I did not patronize any of the bars or other liquor stands, because I brought my own beer. Lots of beer. No sense in spending money on something overpriced. (All the legally purchased booze besides the slushy drinks was definitely overpriced.)
As for the festival grounds themselves, the camping was a bit cozy in most areas. Fortunately we were in one of the more remote areas of the campground, but everyone was packed pretty tightly for the most part.
The music area was absolutely trashed every single night… and immaculately clean every morning. Kudos to the volunteers who helped clean up. Shame on everyone else!
Pretty consistently the sound and setup was good for both main stage and beer tent acts, with the exception of some periods of time where the main stage sound mix seemed to have it’s quality drastically reduce for periods of some band’s sets. This wasn’t too much of an issue though, as the good bands were good, and the bad bands were bad quite faithfully to their individual natures.
As far as I know nobody died, but I could be wrong. In the event someone did, it’s not terribly uncommon, given the amount of people and alcohol crammed into one little place. I can say though that from my perspective it was a very tame and mild-mannered crowd. Not once did I feel unsafe or uneasy, as I certainly have at other festivals.
Now without further bantering, let’s talk meat and potatoes. And by that, I mean MUSIC!
Written By: Rawkzilla’s Bryan Peterson