One of the drawbacks to watching games only from the press box now is that I don't get to play "Guess the Attendance" on the scoreboard--because they give us the number before it is posted for the crowd. But today, let's play a different version of that game by guessing the attendance at Country USA in Oshkosh if beer wasn't served on the grounds.
I bring this up not only because the country music fesitval starts today but also because of what happened with Midwest Fest and the Oshkosh Common Council last week. The organizers of the first year washed-up-Rock-music-and-biker-rally at the Sunnyview Expo Center were horrified to find out just days before the event started last Friday that they were only allowed to sell beer until 11:00 pm. That led to a last-minute plea to serve until 2:00 or 2:30 am--because selling beer is actually the only way a festival like that makes any money. I still laugh when I think of the director telling the Council that his customers would be "angry and confused" if they couldn't drink until Eddie Money wrapped up his show at midnight.
So back to my original question: How many people do you think would show up for Country USA if booze wasn't available on the grounds? Current attendance estimates are 160-thousand people. I'd bet they would be lucky to get 50-thousand over the entire five-days--even with the "Million Dollar Lineup". I estimate that because there seems to a large contingent of attendees who couldn't care less about country music. I've heard from several guys that I know HATE country--but are going because "it's crawling with drunk chicks". There's even a few guys who are camping out there--but not buying tickets. That's because they just set up in the campgrounds--drink all week and yell over the fence for women to come join them.
Drying out Country USA would probably greatly lower the need for all of those "security" measures as well. I give the folks at Starshow Presents a lot of credit, they are going to great lengths to try and keep people dead set on killing themselves from succeeding. The "security wristband" for those that park or camp off-site may be unpopular--but at least the money is being used for something. This year, there will be floodlights set up along Washburn heading away from the grounds in hopes of cutting down on the number of drunks walking in the street being run over by drunks driving down the street. And the new higher barricades along Highway 41 will hopefully deter the "I'm just going to a take a shortcut' guys from walking across the expressway to their campsite on the other side.
So let's hope our visitors this week have fun but keep it safer than in recent years. There is a stage out there--not just a beer tent.