Before the events even can begin, the Wild West Festival committee’s first obligation is to just have the place set up.
It’s a hectic, quick-to-get-it done situation they’re in each year. For Kent Laas and some of the other longtime committee members, it’s simply familiar.
“Being the 22nd year of the event, we have it kind of down to our own science,” Laas said, who has been on the committee since its inception. “This year, it looks like we’re going to get a little bit of a reprieve from the heat. In years past, it’s been 100-plus.”
With a forecast for the temperatures to possibly stay in the mid- to low 80s during the course of the three concert days — Thursday, Friday and Saturday — the environment should be a little more relaxing to the audience in Municipal Park.
Starting at approximately 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, the committee of nearly 45 members began setup around the park and across the road on Main Street where the carnival opens tonight.
Laas was in the park with several members piecing together the concert venue. The starting point was putting the fences up around the area, marking off the concert area and the beer garden. Some of the crew worked on getting lights up.
“We have a great group of volunteers,” Laas said. “Everybody just chips in. Nobody gets overworked.”
The committee members usually set up areas until early evening. The stage was to be put up today. The stage comes from Sure Sound and Lighting in Grand Island, Neb.
The festival concert part starts Thursday with the country duo Maddie and Tae as the headline. On Friday, Lucas Maddy and the Kansas Cartel lead off the evening, followed by Logan Mize and Blackhawk. Saturday will conclude with Hays talent Hannah Norris to start the night, ending with the popular 1980s and early ’90s rock band Warrant.
During the 22 years of the Wild West Festival, Laas said Default, a rock group from Canada, was the only group to back out. For the most part, Mother Nature has cooperated with events as well.
There have been a few instances with rain where a concert was delayed a few hours, but Laas said he couldn’t remember a time they had to postpone an entire concert.
“We have a very good reputation on the entertainment side of it,” Laas said of the festival. “We’ve always treated people well, and we’ve always been treated well.”