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WE Fest campers have varying views on fun

Vicki Friedrichs stands in her tent that she hopes will be a winner for the camper contest this year, which is themed Stars, Stripes and Lites-Americana. Emily Driscoll / Tribune1 / 3
WE Fest concert goers hang out at their campsite in the Viking campground. Emily Driscoll / Tribune2 / 3
One of many Trump figurines at WE Fest sits in front of a campsite in the VIP campground. Emily Driscoll / Tribune3 / 3

It was a chilly start to this year's festival but the weather gave way to a picture perfect day at WE Fest, until thunderstorms began to roll in towards dusk.

The ambiance was its usual festive tone of enthusiasm, but campgrounds were noticeably thinner from just a few years ago.

According to reviews on Facebook, some multi-camper parties were separated this year and weren't able to camp side by side.

Nonetheless, those that were there were ready for a rippin' good time, ranging from a relaxed good time, to a slightly more extreme version of fun.

The Washington Post recently published an article titled "Inside country music's complex—and increasingly lucrative—love affair with alcohol."

Alcohol is definitely one of the focal points of WE Fest, but there are rules in place to avoid accidents, rules that are perhaps not always enforced.

Campers are not supposed to bring "more beer than is reasonable for personal consumption" into the campsites, but the term reasonable is up for interpretation.

Contraptions for consuming alcohol rapidly were abound at Viking campground, like belts that held eight beer cans around the waist, beer bongs, large water bottles with fun straws, jello shots, and more.

WE Fest goer Reed Duncan, 24, said that for many, drinking begins in the morning.

"Sometimes, at 9 a.m. your neighbor will come over and want to play a drinking game already."

"It's 5 'o'clock somewhere," Calvin Anderson, 23, chimed in.

Other concert goers confirmed having started in the early hours of the morning, sometimes as early as 5:30 a.m.

Both Duncan and Anderson were enjoying themselves on Thursday afternoon at their campsite in the Viking campground, which they say is the party campground.

"It's definitely more appealing to college aged kids," Duncan said, adding that the surrounding campgrounds are a little quieter.

There are four DJs at Viking that perform until around 2 a.m., so it's not exactly the place to be if you want to go to bed before then.

Anderson said that there is patrol monitoring the area occasionally, but there aren't wrist bands to distinguish 21 year olds from under 21 year olds.

"You don't have to drink, but everyone does because it's a big party," Anderson said.

Many of the campsites also have makeshift bars, some of them giving free offerings to passersby. Others have beer pong tables.

But more strange were signs on one camper that said, "asian massage with happy ending $10" and also, "21 and over to drink, 18 and over to sleep over."

People were stumbling by 1 p.m., and the grounds were already littered with red solo cups and other trash.

The VIP campground is calm in comparison. There were a few drinking games here and there, but for the most part it appeared to be a standard campsite.

"It's a lot tamer than other campgrounds," said Vicki Friedrichs, longtime concert goer. She and her friends and family sit in lawn chairs to enjoy socializing and relaxing.

Friedrichs won the camper contest last year and hopes to win again this year with her decked out, patriotic campsite.

The theme for the camper contest this year is Stars, Stripes and Lites-Americana. The winner receives an extensive reward that includes a Miller Lite prize pack, a $300 gift card from BOB 95 FM, and four 3-day VIP tickets with camp access and one VIP campsite to WE Fest 2019.

Get ready, Carrie Underwood is set to take the stage tonight at 10:45 as the final act finishing off the second day of WE Fest.

More acts to come Friday and Saturday, including Florida Georgia Line and Jason Aldean. Doors open at 2 p.m. every day of the festival.