Stampede campers dealing with rain, mud as festival begins

By Paul Harris

Stampede campers woke up to a muddy mess after a late-night thunderstorm rolled through Manhattan on Wednesday evening.

It’s an inconvenience that long-time Stampede attendees are used to.

“It rains every damn year we come down here,” Stampede veteran Spencer Walter said.

Walter’s campsite was completely flooded. A myriad of beer cans were floating nearby.

As a solution to their dirt disaster, Walter found someone from a Port-A-Potty company who agreed to help pump out the mud and water. But as of 9 a.m., Walter still had not seen or heard from the guy.

“That’s about the only way we can go about (it),” Walter said. 

Tires of trucks, RVs, and campers were covered in mud and made an early-morning escape for some campers a bit of a concern.

“My girlfriend got her car out,” said Ethan Schuttee of Morrowville. “We thought we was gonna have to pull her out.”

Schuttee said getting his camper out of the mud is going to be the real test, though.

“We settled down about 3 inches last night,” he said.

DeWitt, Neb., resident Tyler Pieper said last night’s storm destroyed their camper. Once they heard it was going to rain, Pieper said he and his friends put the awning up as a way to deter the mud and the rain.

If it rains anymore, Pieper said he and his group will be lucky to get out of Tuttle Creek State Park anytime soon.

A group of attendees from Norton used the rain as a chance to show off their creativity. One of those was Casey Madden, who has been to six Stampedes. He brushed his teeth while standing on a cooler.

“It’s a pain,” Madden said about the mud. “You get dirty and nasty.”

Parking for festival officials was also a problem. One police officer who was patrolling the campsite said the mud has made it difficult for the police to find places to park their vehicles.

So far, this is not the worst weather long-time Stampeders have seen. That took place three years ago.

Past problems with rain had some campers in planning mode. Some brought a tarp or plywood to put chairs on.

“We heard it was gonna rain, so we started bringing towels out,” Brett Lehman said. He said is has rained every single year he has attended Stampede.

Others stuffed their bags with extra clothes and shoes.

Walter wore a pair of rain boots. Many people used flip-flops as a means of trudging through the mud.

According to, isolated thunderstorms are expected in Manhattan on Saturday, which could create more problems for campers.

Everyone said the pending weather and current mess will not deter them from having a good time and partying during the remainder of the festival.

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