By C.E. Hanifin / The Cincinnati Enquirer
When the Meijer Country Stampede debuted last year, organizers wagered that they could rope in country music fans with a bill featuring big-name acts. That turned out to be a safe bet - about 100,000 people turned out in 2003.
This year, the return was even greater. The music festival, which came back to the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, drew a crowd of about 126,000 during its four-day run from June 3 to 6.
Jemma Lewis of Dry Ridge gets her shirt signed by Becky Priest, center, and Renae Truex, right, members of Cowboy Crush.
The Cincinnati Enquirer)
The strong lineup, which included chart-topping headliners Reba McEntire and Martina McBride and popular acts such as Terri Clark and Neal McCoy, helped boost attendance, says Wayne Rouse, president/general manager of Country Stampede.
"When you have performers of that caliber, more people will come out to see them," he says. The weekend's great weather didn't hurt, either.
Here's a look at this year's Stampede, by the numbers:
21,000: Thursday's attendance.
24,000: Friday's attendance.
41,000: Saturday's attendance.
40,000: Sunday's attendance.
100: Number of campsites available. They sold out, and most were occupied by RVers.
2, 440: The number of miles from Seattle to Sparta. That's where the festivalgoer who traveled the farthest came from.
More than 6,000: The number of complimentary tickets given to military personnel stationed in Fort Knox, Ky., and Fort Campbell, Tenn.
2 hours: The amount of time Cowboy Crush spent signing autographs after their crowd-pleasing performance Sunday. The group had planned to spend 30 minutes meeting fans.
About 3,000: The number of funnel cakes that were devoured.
270: The number of mechanical bull rides taken.
2005: Country Stampede will return next year, and will feature a diverse lineup of artists, as the event did this year, Rouse says. They'll set a date and start booking the acts in the next few months.
"We'll explore some new additions" to the event, too, he says. "We always like to have some surprises."
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