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The Main Stage includes headliners Gary Allen, Miranda Lambert, Brantley Gilbert and Jason Aldean.
The Main Stage includes headliners Gary Allen, Miranda Lambert, Brantley Gilbert and Jason Aldean.

Country Thunder set to roll

It was July 2009 … a Friday night. My parents had just sold their home in Twin Lakes. I sat alone in the living room of my childhood home long after the sun had set. The moon light touched the glass calm water so gently and brightly it made my heart hurt. It was absolutely stunning.

Earlier in the day, on the other side of Lake Elizabeth, you could hear strains of Country Thunder -- the thumping country bass, the crowd cheering, but no actual music. Now, though, with the lake sleeping, Alan Jackson came floating across the water clearly.

As Jackson played "Remember When," I vowed that someday I’d get to Country Thunder as a thank you for giving this girl such a poignant send-off.

Fast forward 15 years: The venue consists of 240 acres of rural farmland in Twin Lakes (near the Illinois border and close to Lake Geneva). From its humble beginnings in 1993, the all country-all the time, four day, music festival that takes place this weekend has endured and grown into a top headliner, mainstream, sold-out event.

The campgrounds provide a perfect retreat. For many, there’s absolutely no need to leave the grounds until the last song is played on Sunday night. Well, unless one runs out of beer, of course.

The Main Stage includes headliners Gary Allen, Miranda Lambert, Brantley Gilbert and Jason Aldean, who will be joined by some of the hottest and greatest country artists in the business.

One of the best parts of Thunder is its Listening Room, where up and coming country artists are featured. I can’t wait to see Nick Sturms -- an original artist (a little reminiscent of an early Zac Brown) whose song "She Does" will always leave you wanting more.

Wrapping up the offerings are the Electric Thunder space featuring electronica country mixes by DJ Hish and DJ DU and The Roys’ Pickin’ Porch, especially pleasing for the die-hard bluegrass fan.

Thunder is officially sold-out, but I’ll be heading out to cover it on Thursday and Friday, and will report back. Or just look for me. I’ll be the girl wearing cowboy boots.
Here’s the line-up. Hope to see you there!

Main Stage Line-Up

Thursday, July 24:

2:30-3:30: Chad Brownlee

4-5: Dallas Smith

5:30-6:30: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

7-8:30: Thompson Square

9-10:30: Gary Allan

Friday, July 25:

2:30-3:30: LoCash Cowboys

4-5: Sawyer Brown

5:30-6:30: Craig Morgan

7-8:30: Eli Young Band

9-10:30: Miranda Lambert

Saturday, July 26:

2:30-3:30: Joe Diffie

4- 5: Charlie Worsham

5:30-6:30: Mark Chesnutt

7-8:30: Randy Houser

9-10:30: Brantley Gilbert

Sunday, July 27: 

2:30-3:30: Gord Bamford

4-5: Will Hoge
5:30-6:30: Parmalee

7-8:30: Thomas Rhett

9-10:30: Jason Aldean

The Listening Room

Thursday, July 24:

3-4: Nick Sturms
4:30-5:30: Back Country Roads
6-7: Andrew Cooper
10:30-11:45: Jamie Campbell & the Redneck Romeos
12:15-1:30: Saddlebrook

Friday, July 25:

1:30-2:30: Destination Unknown
3-4: Laura Walsh
4:30-5:30: Saving Savannah
6-7: Suburban Cowboys
10:30-1:30: Audiodrive

Saturday, July 26:

1:30-2:30: Mary & The Boys
3-4: Back Country Roads
4:30-5:30: Laura Walsh
6-7: Cody Johnson
10:30-1:30: Andrew Cooper

Sunday, July 27:

1:30-2:30: Rout 38
3-4: Saving Savannah
4:30-5:30: Suburban Cowboys
6-7: Andrew Salgado
10:30-11:45: Gord Bamford

Electric Thunder

Thursday, July 24:
10:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m.: DJ Hish

Friday, July 25:
10:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m.: DJ Hish

Saturday, July 26:
10:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m.: DJ Hish

Sunday, July 27:
10:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m.: DJ DU

The Roys’ Pickin’ Porch

Thursday, July 24:

3:30-5: Roller Mills String Band
5:30-7:30: The Roys

Friday, July 25:

3:30-5: Big Cedar Bluegrass Band
5:30-7:30: The Roys

Saturday, July 26:

3:30-5: The No Name Stringband
5:30-7:30: The Roys

Sunday, July 27:

3:30-5: The Soggy Prairie Boys
5:30-7:30: The Roys


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