DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – WE Fest is first and foremost about country music. Drinking comes in a close second.
But you don’t have to be a hard-core country music fan or a big drinker to have fun out here. That’s because people-watching supplies hours of entertainment.
Sure, there are some people you’d rather just avert your gaze from. The shirtless, muscle-bound dudes sweating Axe Body Spray who look like they’re heading for a “Jersey Shore” audition can be skipped. The drunk dude who can’t keep his eyes open or stand straight but can still throw the devil horns with his fingers and shout “Free Bird,” he doesn’t know you’re there, so you don’t need to spend time on him. And the young woman who is crying, you really don’t want to know how that came to be.
But there are plenty of other interesting characters.
Like the guy who looks like a plus-sized Ewok – or a half-sized Bruce Vilanch – and walks around the general admission area whistling. And it’s not a charming whistle, like the theme song to “The Andy Griffith Show” or the tune from “Bridge On the River Kwai.” It’s a shrill whistle. If he’s whistling “Dixie,” you’ll hear it.
I’d like to know how he does it but don’t want to get too close to that beard, yet I’m curious to know his story.
The thing I’m really trying to figure out is, what’s behind all these young, 20-something dudes wearing basketball jerseys that are more than a decade old?
On Thursday, the first day of WE Fest, I saw old-school Minnesota Timberwolves jerseys for Stephon Marbury and Wally Szczerbiak. OK, maybe someone does actually like the Wolves, but where were these fans when Marbury needed love from Minnesota?
By the looks of it, third grade.
OK, so they pay respect to the guys who paved the way for … well, whomever the T-Wolves have this year.
But the guy wearing the Christian Laettner jersey, from when he was with the Atlanta Hawks? Nobody even liked flop-top when he was a Woof, and people always seem to forget Hotlanta has a hoops team.
But there were even stranger jerseys in the crowd. A Chris Webber uniform from his time with the Washington Bullets? As far as most sports fans are concerned, Webber is best remembered for a college play, calling a timeout he didn’t even have at the end of a national championship game.
And a John Starks jersey? The only person I could ever see sporting a Starks jersey was prominent New York Knicks fan Spike Lee, and I don’t think I’ll ever see Spike at WE Fest.
So where were all these shirts coming from? Was there a New Era remainders vendor working through the campgrounds? Were these tank tops free with three cases of Coors Light? Or were they stuffed inside all the flimsy $5 cowboy hats?
I don’t know, but I hope they stay at WE Fest, like the “Jersey Shore” wannabes.
And I ain’t just whistling “Dixie.”