With a little luck, today’s heat will be the worst of the week, and the throngs who head to Tuttle Creek State Park for the Country Stampede from Thursday through Sunday will enjoy balmy days in the low 90s.
With a little luck, the temperature will dip below 90 by the time the main acts take the stage.
And with a little luck, any rain that falls — and sorry, Stampeders, we could use more rain — won’t interfere with the shows or overly inconvenience the crowds. Come to think of it, previous crowds have demonstrated admirable resilience and resourcefulness in dealing with nature’s surprises.
The Stampede has been a fixture of summer in the Manhattan area since the mid-1990s, bringing a succession of country music’s biggest stars, the occasional rock band and providing a boost to many of country’s rising stars. This year’s headliners, Toby Keith, the Zac Brown Band, Luke Bryan and The Band Perry, will add to that tradition.
The music and the ambience — some call it chaos — have been a big draw since the first Stampede. This year, the event is expected to draw another 160,000 fans over four days. A fair number of those are local residents, but the festival also attracts fans from well beyond the Flint Hills.
That, of course, helps endear the Stampede to local businesses. Not every Stampeder can camp, and many with four-day passes are unwilling or unable to drive home each night. That helps fill hotel rooms and restaurants. Stampeders also gas up and stock up at local convenience stores and are common sights at discount stores around town, sometimes to shop and other times, it seems, to savor the air conditioning.
Local residents who balk at the sales tax rate might appreciate being reminded that the goods and services that thousands of Stampeders from other communities will be buying in our community this week will generate sales taxes (and in some cases bed taxes). That revenue will help pay city and county bills or be invested in programs and activities that further strengthen Manhattan and Riley County. And in a time when any job is a good job, residents are happy to have the temporary jobs the Stampede creates each summer.
We welcome the Country Stampede — the musicians and their entourages and, of course, the fans who pencil the festival in on their calender each year and who each year are rewarded with great performances and unforgettable experiences.
It will be hot, humid and loud later this week at Tuttle Creek State Park. If Stampeders exercise good judgment, there’s no reason this year’s Stampede won’t be among the most memorable ever.