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WE Fest making improvements to Detroit Lakes venue ahead of 2021 festival

The event returns this year after taking a year off following its purchase by Live Nation.

The popular country music festival WE Fest is making some upgrades ahead of the 2021 event. 

Now under the ownership of Live Nation, which bought it in 2019, the 37th WE Fest Country Music Festival is scheduled for Aug. 5-7 at Soo Pass Ranch in Detroit Lakes. 

But festival-goers heading to the ranch this year will notice some improvements. 

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Among the chances event organizers are making to the ranch:

  • The general admission area will be larger and 200 feet closer to the main stage, giving attendees more room to spread out and they'll be able to see the stage better, organizers say. 
  • The main stage will have upgrades to improve sight lines for festival-goers and "to prepare it for bigger and better things to come in 2022," the release says. 
  • Renovations are being done to the food and beverage venues, including adding additional food options. Organizers expect 27 food vendors in the concert bowl area. 
  • The east building has been removed to make room for an extended bar service area for VIP and general admission ticket holders. 
  • The Saloon is getting a new deck and additional bars, and it will again be open to all ticket holders. 
  • The Trading Post has been expanded so it can host more merchandise and crafts, with an additional 25 vendors expected. 

“WE Fest is so much more than a concert,” Mark Bjerke, WE Fest’s general sales manager, said in a release. “We do our best to create a fun atmosphere with a variety of experiences including camping, food, crafts, boots, hats, bull riding and even helicopter rides. We aim to boost the camaraderie for our ‘WE Fest Family’ regulars as well as first-time guests.”

WE Fest organizers also say the concert bowl will open at noon on Friday and Saturday, which is two hours earlier than past years. This allows festival-goers to go to the bars, eat and shop the vendors for longer, as well as check out the bags competition and other tournament-style games.

This year's WE Fest, called "Back to Fun in '21," marks the return of the festival. It wasn't held in 2020 — and not because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Live Nation had already announced in November 2019 that it was taking a year off and would return to Detroit Lakes in 2021.

There were concerns Live Nation would move the festival from Detroit Lakes, but event organizers have assured festival-goers it'll stay in northwestern Minnesota for the foreseeable future. 

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This year's headliners, which were announced in January, include Florida George Line, Dierks Bently and Blake Shelton. WE Fest shared its full lineup back in March, which includes LANCO, Russell Dickerson, Eli Young Band, The Cadillac Three, Lindsay Ell, Maddie and Tae, Ingrid Andress, High Valley, Raelynn, Larry Fleet, Shy Carter, Kameron Marlowe, Shane Martin, Trip Wire, Slamabama, 32 Below, and Erin Grand.

Tickets for the three-day festival, which is one of the largest country music festivals in the U.S., are on sale now. General admission tickets increase in price by $20 on June 8. 

There is also a kickoff party set for Wednesday, Aug. 4, hosted by WE Fest MC Tom Katt and will feature performances by Shane Martin, Tripwire and The Cadillac Three. 

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