Wynonna Headlines FREE Show This Weekend
Some top-flight country music entertainers draw crowds each summer to the city’s Ojibway Island.
This Saturday, the 20th anniversary of the KCQ Country Music Fest promises to be no different.
More than 80,000 to 100,000 people, many wearing cowboy hats and cowboy boots, are expected for the day of concerts headlined by country star Wynonna.
The concerts are free, adding to the event’s popularity.
“It’s free music and (people think), ‘It’s great, and I can bring the kids and come and go as I please,’ ” said WKCQ-FM 98.1 morning show co-host Barbara Sheltraw.
But the Country Music Fest didn’t grow overnight into the major Saginaw event it is today, event organizers said.
In 1992, the event kicked off with Trisha Yearwood and Aaron Tippin bringing 25,000 fans to the island, according to Saginaw News archives.
In 1996, Sheltraw knew the event was here to stay when 80,000 people showed up to watch Tracey Lawrence, Terri Clark and Bryan White perform.
“We were amazed, absolutely amazed at the turnout of people,” she said.
Jim Kramer, morning show co-host, said after 20 years, the event has become a Saginaw tradition.
“It’s just a mass of humanity,” he said.
Sponsors, including Garber Chrysler, Northwest Energy and Wildfire Credit Union, help with the financing to make the annual event happen.
“It certainly is a popular event,” Kramer said. “We couldn’t do it without them.”
Kramer, who has worked during all 20 of the concerts, said the growth is shown just in the number of food tents, which went from one major food vendor in a tent the first year to two tents full of food vendors with “everything imaginable, from ribs to tacos.”
And while music is the main attraction, those attending can visit an arts and crafts area, expo tents and a children’s play area.
While it’s a day of rest and relaxation for most, for radio station workers and their families it’s a day of work.
Family members typically help volunteer, Kramer said, with a total of about 100 volunteers each year.
“You can call it a labor of love,” he said. “We work on it nearly year round ... we go out and enjoy engaging our concertgoers and look at it as a fun day.”
And after 20 years of making the concert happen, Sheltraw said, they have amassed some fans. Some people even remember this being at their first concert as children, she said.
“They grew up on it,” she said.