Country Thunder (Craven) in a Nutshell
If you’ve ever heard of a crazy Craven Saskatchewan experience, you’re probably not alone.
Travelling working for Rockstar Energy, I had the opportunity to experience this wild side of Canada for a first time (and let me tell you, I was not disappointed).
To more easily summarize the experience, I’ll break it into the most notable aspects:
When you drive into the grounds (after passing about 60 cop cars), you’ll see a valley, jammed with thousands of trailers that people definitely bought for $400 off Kijiji from a 70 year old who is just too old to go camping like he used to. Bumper to bumper, trailers are fit together like LEGO pieces with nothing but lawn chairs and empty beer boxes between them. People are up on their roofs to get a better view of the surreal look of kilometres worth of campers. Flags reading “Saturdays are For the Boys” hoisted full prairie wind sail.
You can smell the outhouses within a 30 foot radius and approximately 60% of toilets that have running water are clogged and overflowing. In bathrooms that had real sinks, they had to post signs that said “please do not wash your feet in the sink” (so you can only imagine the smells). The dirt roads are so full with pedestrians walking between campsites that they likely didn’t see sunlight for the entire festival.
Although Country Thunder is famous for the country music stars that get everyone two stepping in the evening, I was honestly most struck by all the people at the event. The other day I sat down with my brother and tried to count how many famous musicians I’ve seen live (it’s over 45!), many of from other music festivals I’ve attended. This, however, was a COMPLETE different crowd.
At Craven, you are in the minority if you have all your teeth. You’re also in the minority if you’re sober.
In my entire four day experience, I can probably count the amount of sober people I saw on one hand.
If there was a drinking game where I’d take a sip every time a guy wearing plaid pointed at me and yelled across a walkway “MERRY CRAVEN” while giving me a wink (which looked more like he got dust in his eye), I’d probably be drunk within 20 minutes.
On several occasions I thought I’d see someone randomly start to do a two-step dance on their own, and then realize they were actually just trying not to fall from one too many cold ones.
I was extremely surprised by the range in ages at the event. Ages ranged from “I definitely stole my older brother’s ID to come here” to “the age where looking over your beer gut to button your pants becomes difficult”. I saw women with balding cotton fluff hair throw it down harder than I’ve ever seen any 20 year old.
The people I saw at Craven were definitely a redneck breed of their own. Don’t have a shirt? That’s okay, you probably have enough back hair to keep you warm. Don’t have a girlfriend? That’s okay, spray-paint “BANG ME” on your chest (that’s how to pick up chicks, right??). Missing a shoe? So are 36 other people, it’s not an uncommon sight. Feel like jamming to country with some ecstasy? Gord at the mini donut stand will hook you up. Have a beard? Stick an extra Cheeto in there for when you get hungry later.
A testament to these people I talk about is the outfits many people wear. The most common sight (we could even go as far as calling this “normal”) is:
For women- a bikini top and denim shorts with a flannel shirt tied around the hips, three day old mascara which has now migrated down the face unintentionally
For men- cowboy boots, cowboy hat, jeans, a plaid BudLight flannel shirt with the sleeves ripped off and left unbuttoned (the kind BudLight was giving out for free)
If you weren’t wearing something from the above statement, you were likely wearing:
-no shirt with some poorly painted airbrush tattoo across your chest
-both a Hawaiian shirt and Hawaiian shorts together (which don’t match)
-a fanny pack
-broken sunglasses (missing either a lens or an arm)
-one flip flip (other foot bare)
-a shirt with a quote about drinking
-the same outfit you’ve worn for the 3rd day in a row with various beer stains and is still wet from your most recent campsite shotgun attempt (also keep in mind they haven’t showered in the last couple days)
One thing I was grateful for was that the concerts were definitely more put together and impressive than the outfits.
The venue was massive and spacious, yet still intimate. In terms of outdoor concerts, this was definitely my favourite set up I have experienced (it could also be because I watched several of the concerts from the backstage area though).
Everybody was in for a good time, the crowd sang along with the performers, and even the most city-looking people walked out yeehawing.
Luke Bryan continued to steal the hearts of thousands of women with his little hip swings, and even brought people to tears on his heartfelt songs.
Overall, I can say I had a great Country Thunder Sask experience (despite missing out on much of the day for work and not participating in the whole “camping” experience and instead opting for a hotel).
Would I do it again: Questionable.
Did I have fun: Absolutely.
Did I wear cowboy boots: You know it.