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Wagon Wheel Ridge expanding to accommodate upcoming festivals


Kick’n Up Kountry doesn’t begin until June 15-18, but the event’s site, Wagon Wheel Ridge, has already been filled up with people over recent weeks, especially since the nice weather.

“It was quite the zoo out there on Tuesday (May 24). You could hardly even drive out there— over 100 people,” said Jake Larson, Marketing Director at Mattracks. “Yeah, it was 13 different contractors all out there at once, pouring cement, moving in buildings, building new structures, doing brick work, trenching, doing underground electrical.”

The Kick’n Up Kountry Music Festival is growing and the venue has to go grow it, according to Larson. The Wagon Wheel Ridge expansion project has been an ongoing project since the last festival, but has really picked up the last few weeks with the recent drier weather, especially the week of May 23. The work will continue up until this year’s festival begins.

“As Kick’n Up Kountry grows and the venue kind of has to grow with it,” Larson said, “we’re expecting our, you know, largest turnout we’ve ever had this year.”

The expansion work being done out there over the week of May 23 and the next few weeks leading up to the festival include the moving in and remodeling of a 40-plus room lodging facility, and the adding on to the existing Down Under Bar and Grill— to provide an additional bar location. It also has involved the pouring of a cement slab to accommodate a new 40×100 storage facility and the installing of a new brick retaining wall in front of the Ridge Line Railroad Depot.

Other expansion or addition work that has been done involved: new ticket booths throughout the festival grounds, new bathroom facilities, eight new dressing room facilities for the stars, and three new security buildings.

To accommodate the anticipated increase in festival patrons, work crews have also added 72 new VIP campsites and 64 new electric campsites. Kick’n Up Kountry has also added a new parking lot across the road— a short walk from the concert bowl. This work also includes much underground infrastructure, including electrical and plumbing work.

“Our lineup is getting a lot of attention throughout the region and beyond. And basically, the bigger the stars and larger turnouts require an increase in infrastructure,” Larson said. “And everyone from the stage crews, the festival goers, to the stars, you know, need… higher accommodations, and it’s our goal to provide those.”

The 13 contractors working on this project include: A+ Concrete, Wiktel, Greenway Environmental, Lieberg Electric, Davidson Construction, Novatny Construction, Christian Crane Service, Waage Construction, Sollund Plumbing, PKM Electric, Ottertail Power Company, Mattracks, and Olson Underground.

The festival’s growth comes with new demands: more security, higher stars with larger demands, more campers, and more people. The week of May 23, Larson explained, was a big push forward in terms of progress on this expansion project, thanks to the nice weather.

This year’s facility will welcome in a Kick’n Up Kountry star-studded line-up— one Larson said is the biggest the festival has ever had since it began in 2004. It includes: Martina McBride, Gabby Barrett, Big and Rich, Tracy Lawrence, John Michael Montgomery, and many more.

Larson passed along a few words from Mattracks and Kick’n Up Kountry CEO Glen Brazier leading up to the festival.

“We are getting really excited,” Brazier said, “things are coming together perfectly.”

To see the full story, read the June 9 issue of the North Star News in print or online.

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