By Gregg Hoffmann Special to Published Jun 22, 2008 at 5:27 AM

If you're a little bit country, or a lot, and want to tear yourself away from Summerfest for a couple days, you have two opportunities elsewhere in the state.

The Star Spangled country music fest happens in Richland Center, June 26-28. Country Fest also is going on in Cadott that weekend.

Both are crammed with talent. Appearing on Thursday, June 26, at Star Spangled are Lee Greenwood, Terri Clark and Phil Vassar.

Neal McCoy headlines the Friday lineup, along with Tracy Lawrence, Sawyer Brown and Emerson Drive.

On Saturday, Sara Evans, Billy Ray Cyrus, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Luke Bryan and the Honky Tonk Tailgate Party are on the agenda.

Richland Center celebrates its 15th year of hosting the festival at Krouskop Park. While the talent has traditionally been good, the lineups have improved and gotten bigger every year.

"Each year, the summer concert season is dominated by high-profile tours in big stadiums and amphitheaters dotting the nation's largest cities. But throughout Wisconsin there is a phenomenon that bucks the trends of those glitzy tours. Each summer, country music fans around the state pack their gear to spend multiple days in large grassy fields listening to the largest names in the genre," Wisconsin State Journal reviewer Erik Ernst wrote of Star Spangled and other country music fests in the state.

Ernst was spot-on for the Richland Center event, which benefits local causes. The organization contributed to five charities, the local parks and the City of Richland Center with proceeds from the 2007 concert. Donations will be given again this year.

General admission at the gate is $100. Camping also is available on the festival grounds. You can find out more at or by calling 1-800-375-0876.

Trace Adkins headlines Country Fest in Cadott on June 29. Terri Clark and Luke Bryan are packing up their gear after they play in Richland Center and heading to Cadott to also play on the 29th. Emerson Drive is playing on the first night in Cadott and then headed south to Richland Center.

Sugarland also plays Thursday. Top vocal due Brooks and Dunn is on the Friday lineup, as is Miranda Lambert, who had the album of the year and who also plays at Summerfest.

Jack Ingram, picked as the top male vocalist of the year, starts Saturday. Kenny Chesney, picked the entertainer of the year, headlines on Saturday night.

Whiskey Falls kicks off the Cadott event at 5 p.m. on Thursday, the June 26. A one-day general admission ticket is $87.50 for every day except Saturday, when it is $129. A four-day general admission ticket is $175.

Camping also is available at Country Fest. For more information, go to

Wisconsin has several camping-based country music festivals most summers. Twins Lakes, Eau Claire and Rhinelander are other regulars for such festivals later in the summer.

"To me, the festival shows are my favorite shows throughout the touring year," said country star Blake Shelton, who played Richland Center and Eau Claire last year.

"I would pick either of those shows over a big concert in the middle of a city like Los Angeles," Shelton added. "I just don't fit in in those big metro areas. Those aren't my people."

Summerfest and other Milwaukee area venues offer such fine music in the summer that it's hard to justify going elsewhere, especially with gas prices. But, if you really have a hankering for country, in the country, the Richland Center and Cadott festivals offer great entertainment this coming weekend.

Gregg Hoffmann Special to
Gregg Hoffmann is a veteran journalist, author and publisher of Midwest Diamond Report and Old School Collectibles Web sites. Hoffmann, a retired senior lecturer in journalism at UWM, writes The State Sports Buzz and Beyond Milwaukee on a monthly basis for OMC.