When it rains… it pours

Little Big Town took the stage Friday amidst the wind, mud and a flurry of cotton falling from nearby trees. LBT’s Karen Fairchild said of the cotton “It looks like it’s snowing out here.”

Josh Rouse

The 2008 version of the Affiliated Foods Midwest Country Stampede, better known as just “the Stampede,” kicked off to a tumultuous start Thursday, with a variety of talent taking the stage.


Of course, the contestants in the karaoke contest were the only ones to take the stage that day, with rain, hail and lightning throughout the evening drowning out any hope of a delayed late-night performance. The onslaught of electricity filling the sky was a sight to see, though one unfortunate Stampeder was hit by a strike.

To make matters worse, the parking situation had changed from years previous and would go on to cause problems throughout the weekend. Many endured a thirty-minute wait on Tuttle Creek Boulevard while trying to enter the park, only to be told when they finally reached the entrance they would need to go across the dam to park. However, this was nothing in comparison to some of the other problems surrounding the new plans.


After the unfortunate opening day, many Stampeders felt their spirits lift after hearing that music legend Charlie Daniels, who was supposed to be the headliner Thursday night, would be performing Sunday. Little Big Town, Hall of Famer Randy Owens and Sugarland made sure that Friday offered more entertainment than Thursday had, but something seemed to be missing. Randy Owens, whom I didn’t really care all that much about seeing before the show, actually put on the best show of the day in my mind. He was energetic throughout his performance and crooned to the crowd a lot more than Sugarland. Little Big Town did an admirable job, as well. I think that in a couple of years they might get more crowd support, but they just don’t have enough recognizable songs to keep the fans in it for two hours.

Sugarland was by far the most disappointing of the weekend, and even the 94.5 FM broadcasters were getting nitpicky about the show. It was hard to pinpoint exactly what was missing, but it just didn’t seem like the band or the fans were in it. Perhaps the strangest moment was when I noticed that many fans were leaving halfway into their performance and, in some cases, before they even took the stage. When Jennifer Nettles began singing the chorus of “Why Don’t You Stay?” it seemed more like she was asking the audience that question.

Saturday was the last day we went to the Stampede, and it made up for the previous nights show, though we only got to see the last couple of acts due to the insane traffic getting over the dam into the parking lot. Taylor Swift put on the greatest show of the weekend to that point, but Rascal Flatts immediately stole her thunder afterwards. After all, it is hard to compete with 17 tractor trailers full of stage equipment.

The best way to describe the Rascal Flatts concert experience is to combine Big and Rich’s action packed, mile-a-minute pace with Brad Paisley’s pyrotechnics and video screens. Almost every song they sang was a familiar tune, and the monstrous crowd sang along with each of them.


Due to the mud, the people in charge of the event decided to once again have a change in plans Friday as all guests were told via the radio (1610 AM, such a popular frequency) to park at the Kansas State campus in the Derby parking lot. Convoys of buses then proceed to transport them to the grounds. This plan was a good system for getting people quickly and safely into the parking, but getting out of the park was a different story. I can only hope that other Stampeders did not suffer the same lack of communication that we did, because we ended up being driven to a parking lot on the other side of town. Thankfully, another bus driver took the initiative to drive us to the right parking lot, because the bus driver we had gave us the option of walking from there or riding all the way back to the park and hopping on another bus.

My suggestion to the Stampede officials is that, if busing people is your backup plan, have people who know the area well enough that the prospect of driving a few blocks to the KSU campus doesn’t terrify the living hell out of them. Both bus drivers we had were from Kansas City and had no idea how to circumnavigate Manhattan other than the route they was given, and we ended up directing the second bus driver to the campus. I don’t blame the bus drivers at all, they were just doing what they were told. But I do think the people in charge should have been more… in charge.

After that fiasco, I was almost certain Saturday couldn’t get any worse. But considering that after Saturday’s show we moved 20 feet from our parking spot in an hour and a half due to an apparent accident and no one directing traffic where the roads met, the entire parking situation severely tarnished the good memories I had of the weekend.