“And you haven’t seen anything, yet.” That was the recurring phrase late Wednesday afternoon at the already crowded Tuttle Creek State Park campgrounds on the eve of Kicker Country Stampede.
Already, the campgrounds were bustling with spirit (and a lot of spirits, as well).
This year’s Stampede may be one for the books. Already the festival has sold out of camping spots and VIP tickets for the first time in its 19 years.
The line-up includes singers of some of the top hits on the country radio dial right now: Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Chris Young and Easton Corbin.
Corbin is the big show Thursday at 9:30.
In the meantime, campers were filing in at Tuttle Creek for the year’s biggest party in Manhattan, which has a four-day gate count of more than 100,000.
One of the most attention-grabbing camp setups was a full-length 1984 school bus painted purple and white with a party deck built on top, operated by Manhattanites Cameron Christenson and Kyle McVey.
“We came in Sunday,” Christenson said. “This bus is a landmark and a party-mark. We inherited it a few years ago, and everybody knows about it.
“One year the carburetor was running on just two barrels so we rebuilt it out here.”
Fortunately for them, though, the bus doesn’t have to run once it’s parked, and on Wednesday it was in place and ready for action. And this bus has apparently seen plenty of action.
Christenson and McVey, who already had a group of people on top of the bus getting Stampede-ready, said they’ll have a little more security around the bus this year.
“We have some EMS buddies and cop friends who will help us keep things under control,” Christenson said.
Last year, they said, the party got a little… “rambunctious.” Nearly 70 people were on top of the bus and the party was literally rocking.
“I was up here playing music and a big speaker fell off the bus and I grabbed it,” said Christenson, 25. “I grabbed on to the speaker and (the bus) rocked about 3 foot up and down.
“I turned off the music and said, ‘No more.’”
And that was just one camp.
Around the bend was a small log cabin on wheels.
Across the road there was a moving-van-turned-camper, complete with mattresses and an air-conditioning unit.
That was the camp of Travis Greene, who brought friends from Topeka.
Greene was in full Stampede garb, complete with cut-off jean shorts, a cut-off leather open vest and some cowboy boots.
The look was completed with a Bud Light in-hand —likely his first of many, he said.
“Everything sold out so fast, but the line-up is so great,” he said.