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Return of the boots: WE Fest kicks off three-days of country music in Detroit Lakes

Thousands of country music fans gathered at Soo Pass Ranch, outside of Detroit Lakes, on Thursday for the annual WE Fest country music festival, which runs through Aug. 6. Country music superstar Jason Aldean headlined the first night's music, which also included performances from: Chris Janson, Blanco Brown, Elvie Shane, and Hitchville, throughout the day.

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Country music concert-goers smile while taking photographs during the first night of WE Fest in Detroit Lakes on Aug. 4, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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DETROIT LAKES — WE Fest kicked off three nights of country music's finest at Soo Pass Ranch, outside of Detroit Lakes on Thursday.

The annual music festival, which runs through Aug. 6, drew thousands to hear Jason Aldean perform his hits as the country music superstar headlined the first night's performances.

Jennifer Weinkauf, of Fargo, N.D., said she loves the music, but the festival people-watching is what makes the weekend special.

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Country music headliner Jason Aldean performs during the first night of WE Fest in Detroit Lakes on Aug. 4, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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Country music headliner Jason Aldean performs during the first night of WE Fest in Detroit Lakes on Aug. 4, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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Country music concert-goers smile while listening to headliner Jason Aldean during the first night of WE Fest in Detroit Lakes on Aug. 4, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

"I saw a red, white and blue tutu, that was cute," said Weinkauf, as her and her group of friends waited for Aldean to hit the stage. "It's just fun people, but also, people are starting to annoy me the older I get."

Their group had seen Aldean play at WE Fest about four years ago, which brought back many memories of all the good times they've had at festival's past.

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The new WE Fest main stage features a runway that leads to a crossing area, which separated fans standing in the pit from those sitting in front of the stage. The setup allowed Aldean to travel the length of the stage while being among the crowd. He played a number of his hits, including "Big Green Tractor," "Dirt Road Anthem" and closed with "Hicktown."

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Country music headliner Jason Aldean performs during the first night of WE Fest in Detroit Lakes on Aug. 4, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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Country music headliner Jason Aldean performs during the first night of WE Fest in Detroit Lakes on Aug. 4, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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Country music headliner Jason Aldean performs during the first night of WE Fest in Detroit Lakes on Aug. 4, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

"It's my very favorite weekend of the summer," she said. "But my highlight (so far) was definitely Chris Janson's son ... I don't know what's going to beat that."

Chris Janson opened for Aldean and, at one point, brought his young son on stage to help him sing with the crowd. Janson also electrified the crowd when he showed off his harmonica playing skills over the course of his performance.

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Chris Janson performs during the first night of WE Fest in Detroit Lakes on Aug. 4, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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Chris Janson performs during the first night of WE Fest in Detroit Lakes on Aug. 4, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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Chris Janson performs during the first night of WE Fest in Detroit Lakes on Aug. 4, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

"Honestly, it is about country music, but also, you don't even feel like you're even in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, or near Fargo," said Weinkauf. "Because, you are at this whole different vibe ... it has its own atmosphere."

Music continues Friday night with headliner Miranda Lambert, but may be dampened by thunderstorms forecast for the lakes area.

Luke Bryan will headline the final performance of WE Fest 2022 on Saturday.

Check out all of the photos from Thursday night of WE Fest at: www.DL-Online.com

Multimedia News Lead Reporter
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"We’ve been advised by authorities to clear the stage area and audience due to incoming severe weather and high winds," WE Fest posted on its Facebook page. "Please return to your campsite or vehicle."