Vendors Draw Large Crowds as Country Thunder Continues Weekend at Randall | Local News

RANDALL – Whether you’re looking for barbecue, hot corn, cookie dough or cowboy hats, Country Thunder has you covered – and festival attendees showed up for the vendors of this year.

The Country Thunder festival grounds in Randall were packed with food and retail vendors, providing endless options for shopping and eating as fans waited for the performers to come out. Several vendors said they saw a surprisingly high number of customers as the festival as a whole received record attendance on opening night.

Karen Starkman, co-owner of Mustard’s Last Stand, said they got “great business.” This is her eighth year as a vendor at the festival.

“It was the busiest first day we’ve ever seen,” Starkman said.

Nearby, at Otte’s Concessions, owner Jeff Otte had a similar experience with large crowds. Based in Sauk Center, Minnesota, Otte made the seven-hour commute to sell to Country Thunder Wisconsin for 16 years. Selling at the festival seemed like a fun idea, he said, and it definitely paid off for the concession stand, which is popular for its cheese curds, corndogs and hot corn.

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“The weather may be uncertain at Country Thunder, but the crowd is still there,” Otte said.

Mary Pranger, owner of Emma’s Cookie Kitchen, said business was “decent” on the first night of the festival for her two cookie stands. Stands offer fried cookie dough, freshly baked cookies, cookie dough sundaes and more. This is Pranger’s fourth year selling to Country Thunder, and his second with two stalls.

“It’s fun, I like country music,” Pranger said. “I did Iowa Country Thunder once too, and would do the others if they were closer.”

Other sellers said the music was also a big highlight for them.

Christy Conrad, general manager of Milwaukee-based retailer Drink Wisconsinbly, said she liked her booth set up near the festival’s lake stage so she could hear the live music. People watching at the festival is fun too, she says.

“There was a good crowd, so business is good. I was shocked by the crowd yesterday, usually the first day is slower,” Conrad said. “And everyone walks past us coming from the campsite, so a lot of people see us.”

Country Thunder newbies Joe Koeppl and Leslie Reuter set up their tent for their Lake Cowboy shop. From Minnetonka, Minnesota, Koeppl and Leslie are lifelong friends who decided to start the business together, honoring their Minnesota roots in lake life and rural living.

“We wanted to combine our love of country music, lake life and the barn,” Koeppl said.

Even for sellers who didn’t receive record business on opening night, those who were Country Thunder veterans knew business would come as the festival went on. Marc Harden, owner of Florida-based retailer RDNKN, said business tends to pick up after day one. Harden said he had been coming to Country Thunder Wisconsin for five years.

“I really like the owners. They’re like family,” Harden said. “It’s also a great place. It’s a big company, a big event and it’s a lot of fun.

Beau Richards, owner of retailer Concert Alien, had similar feelings about the festival.

“We’ve been coming here for six years,” Richards said. “There are really good people at Country Thunder.”

Sunday performers are expected to include:

2:30 p.m. – Jackson Dean

3:00 p.m. – Alika Arlynn Band

4:30 p.m. – Zac Matthews Band

5:30 p.m. – Towns of Tenville

9:00 p.m. – Georgia Florida Line

10:30 p.m. – Bootjack Road

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