WE Fest weekend expected to bring business boom to Detroit Lakes

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Business owners in Detroit Lakes are amped up over the return of WE Fest this week, which is considered one of the largest country music festivals in the country.

Forum News Service reports the annual music and camping festival, which runs through Saturday at Soo Pass Ranch and annually attracts about 45,000 fans, competes with the 4th of July for the biggest business period of the year.

This year's WE Fest started Wednesday night with a kick-off party, and begins in earnest Thursday by featuring headliner Jason Aldean. Brad Paisley and the Zac Brown Band are also among the major acts playing this weekend.

The festival's website has the complete lineup.

Aaron Swenson, who owns the sports bar Bleachers in Detroit Lakes, says by opening early at 9 a.m. Friday and Saturday, the extra three hours of business ups his receipts 50 to 60 percent – and bad weather increases his take even more.

Local alcohol sales during the weekend are also expected to increase, Forum says. Seven Sisters Spirits' owner Steve Larsen tells the publication that beer and liquor sales are usually triple the amount of summer weekend sales during WE Fest.

Local food sales also increase, from grocery stores to fast-food establishments, Forum reports.

While the use of fuel is bound to go up with the influx of visitors in the area, local gas station owners have vowed not to raise prices during WE Fest, Valley News Live reports. The average price per gallon is about $3.25, the publication says.

Valley News Live says that the festival wants people to put their smartphones to work at WE Fest by using a new GPS app to help people find where their family and friends are. In addition, the festival says, fans can take selfies with country star handprints at the WE Fest Walk of Fame.

While this year's WE Fest is barely underway, tickets already went on sale last month for next year's festival, which will include headliners Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert.

John Gourley, the chief marketing officer for WE Fest's parent company, Festivals and Concert Events, tells the Park Rapids Enterprise that additional performers for the 2015 WE Fest will likely be announced at the conclusion of the festival this weekend.

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